U.S. intelligence office releases first transparency report

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence has released its first transparency report on its Tumblr page.

In it, the organization details the number of FISA court orders or National Security Letters it issued in 2013, and the number of targets affected by its operations.

The report follows a directive from President Barack Obama last year, when he charged the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, or ODNI, with publicizing more information on government surveillance activities. (via The Wall Street Journal)

It also comes after transparency reports from big names in tech, including Google and Yahoo. But The Verge explains the government version is a bit more detailed, because it’s not subject to the same restrictions.

“The agreement requires companies to report the same numbers in blocks of  500 or 1,000, and lump many different forms of order together as one. As a result, this is the first time we've seen government orders broken out in this much detail.”

Those tech services appear to be applauding what they view as the first step but are calling on the Department of Justice to “provide a complete picture” of national security authority.

One sticking point with critics is how the report defines single targets. An EFF lawyer told Wired individuals, a group or a whole organization are still counted as just one target — and the report doesn’t address what happens to the communications of other people or groups in touch with a given target.

And one digital rights activist wonders to The Guardian if the report can be considered accurate at all.

“The ODNI report calls itself into question by saying they're providing numbers, but immediately saying those numbers are only true to the extent the intelligence community believes it can release them without compromising sensitive information.”

ODNI has said it will release the same report on an annual basis.

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