Requests for data rise sharply under secretive U.S. surveillance orders

WASHINGTON - FBI requests for customer records under a secretive surveillance order increased by nearly 50 percent in 2015, according to a US government transparency report published this week.

Internet and telecommunications companies in 2015 received 48,642 requests, up from 33,024 reported in 2014, for data via so-called National Security Letters (NSLs). The NSL is a tool used by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to gather phone numbers, email and IP addresses, web browsing histories and other information.

An NSL does not require a warrant and is usually accompanied by a gag order.

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