PPSA today announces the submittal of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Department of Justice seeking records on how and when DOJ uses secretive non-disclosure orders, or NDOs. Through such orders, DOJ is able to obtain private information from internet and telecom companies while also prohibiting those companies from informing American consumers that their personal information has been searched by the government.
In June, the House passed the NDO Fairness Act by voice vote. If enacted, this legislation would restrain the government practice of issuing NDOs to internet and telecom companies. While the Senate prepares to take up this legislation, PPSA thought it would be useful to inform the debate with information on the circumstances and frequency with which the Department of Justice and its agencies issue NDOs. We also thought it would be useful for senators to know what privacy safeguards are in place, including government guidelines, policies, and training requirements.
With that in mind, PPSA submitted this FOIA request to the Department of Justice, and its components – the Executive Office for United States Attorneys, the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, DOJ’s Criminal Division, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
We are asking for records concerning:
“We have every reason to expect the government can release this basic data about how many NDOs are issued, the circumstances that prompted them, and the guardrails, if any, that constrain them,” said Gene Schaerr, PPSA general counsel. “We are not asking the government for a favor. We are seeking information Americans should know and the Senate needs for its debate.”