A federal judge ruled back in 2013 that an ISP couldn’t be forced by the FBI to turn over users’ private data without the user being informed about it first. There has been a change in the law now, though, which means that ISPs no longer have to notify the user. A federal appeals court ruling handed down yesterday prohibits internet service providers, financial institutions, and phone carriers completely from informing users that they’re being investigated by the FBI.
The new ruling states that FBI can still issue a National Security Letter without having to immediately notify their target but it has to review the need for the letter three years after it was sent.
The FBI has also been bound to stop looking into the person’s online activities once the national security investigation has been completed.
As part of its National Security investigations, the FBI receives access to a suspect’s online purchases as well as the IP addresses of everyone they’ve been in contact with.
The latest ruling means that people who are the subject of an investigation won’t know the FBI is looking into them for at least three years.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation is looking into its options for appealing the latest ruling.
“Our position, in general, is when an ISP gets an NSL, they should tell the user so that they can contest that request,” says Andrew Crocker, a staff attorney with the foundation.
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