Dear Chairman Chuck Grassley and Chairman Richard Burr,

The undersigned civil society organizations and trade associations write to urge you to hold open hearings on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) request to expand its ability to demand additional electronic communications transactional records (ECTRs), such as an individual’s web browsing history, using National Security Letters (NSLs), which can be issued by any special agent in charge throughout the United States, and are not subject to court review.

This proposal, if enacted, would remove necessary judicial oversight of the FBI’s access to these personal records and would threaten individuals’ privacy. It would enable the FBI to unilaterally issue demands for information which, in addition to web browsing history, includes sensitive data like logs of who individuals communicate with online via email, chat, video, and text; what services they subscribe to; what times they sign into and out of their accounts; IP addresses; and much more.

Last month, the Senate failed to invoke cloture on the McCain Amendment1 , which would have granted the FBI’s request to expand the NSL statute to include ECTRs, and made permanent the never-used “Lone Wolf” provision of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004. In addition, there have been similar proposals to expand the NSL statute included in the Senate Intelligence Authorization Act and raised during the debate over Electronic Communications Privacy Act reform. Though these proposals would dramatically expand the FBI’s surveillance authority, Congress has never held a single public hearing on it.

Before voting on this amendment again, Senators should have the opportunity to, in a public setting, ask questions that are necessary to understanding the nature of the problem that the FBI purports exists with its current authorities and the impacts of the proposed expansion, including:

Before the McCain amendment is called up for another vote, we urge you to schedule open hearings to publicly debate the need for and consequences of such a dramatic expansion of FBI surveillance authority.

Thank you for your consideration.


Access Now

Advocacy for Principled Action in Government

American Association of Law

Libraries American Civil Liberties Union

American Library Association

Amnesty International USA

Association of Research Libraries

Brennan Center for Justice

Center for Democracy & Technology

Center for Media Justice C

omputer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA)

The Constitution Project

Constitutional Alliance

Demand Progress

Electronic Frontier Foundation

Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC)

Fight for the Future


Free the People

Government Accountability Project

Internet Infrastructure Coalition / I2Coalition

National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

New America’s Open Technology Institute

Niskanen Center

PEN American Center

Restore the Fourth

R Street

Sunlight Foundation


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