They've got your number

The FBI wants to pay telecom companies to keep your phone records.

Published July 25, 2007 3:03PM (EDT)

The Washington Post reports this morning that the FBI is seeking $5 million a year from Congress to pay telecom companies to keep customers' telephone and Internet records for two years so that the agency can use them for information relating to counterterrorism investigations.

"The FBI would not have direct access to the records," writes the Post's Ellen Nakashima. "It would need to present a subpoena or an administrative warrant, known as a national security letter, to obtain the information that the companies would keep in a database, officials said."

According to a recent report by the Justice Department's inspector general, between 2003 and 2005 the agency issued 143,074 national security letter requests, but failed to accurately report those numbers to Congress.

Nakashima writes, "The report also disclosed that the bureau was issuing 'exigent letters,' telling telephone companies that the bureau needed information immediately and would follow up with subpoenas later. In many cases, agents did not follow up. Moreover, Inspector General Glenn A. Fine found, there was no legal basis to compel the disclosure of information using such letters."

By Julia Dahl

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