Related Policy Matters

2016 Progress Report on SIGINT Reform 

This Office of the Director of National Intelligence report describes the continuing progress being made by the U.S. Government to, among other efforts, strengthen privacy protections of personal information. 

FBI Policies and Procedures for Safeguarding Personal Information as Required by PPD-28 (Signals Intelligence Activities)

Presidential Policy Directive 28 (PPD-28) is designed to reassure every American that the nation’s intelligence activities are carried out with appropriate oversight and respect for civil liberties and privacy. Among its many provisions, PPD-28 establishes safeguards for personal information collected through signals intelligence (SIGINT). According to the directive, SIGINT “activities must take into account that all persons should be treated with dignity and respect, regardless of their nationality or wherever they might reside, and that all persons have legitimate privacy interests in the handling of their personal information.” 

Section Four of PPD-28 requires all elements of the Intelligence Community to establish procedures for safeguarding personal information collected through SIGINT activities. Although the FBI does not conduct SIGINT activities, the Bureau has applied the relevant provisions of PPD-28 to information it collects in accordance with Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which deals with the acquisition of foreign intelligence concerning non-U.S. persons outside the United States. 

For details, please read the full text of the FBI Policies and Procedures for Safeguarding Personal Information as Required by PPD-28 (SIGINT Activities).

Updated NSL Language

The FBI has changed language contained in its national security letters (NSLs) to reflect new provisions set forth in the USA FREEDOM Act of 2015 concerning recipients’ ability, without time limitation, to challenge NSL nondisclosure requirements. The electronic template used by the FBI to generate NSLs has been updated so that all NSLs issued on or after September 13, 2016 contain the new language. Additionally, the FBI has sent letters to recipients of NSLs issued following the passage of the USA FREEDOM Act advising them of the updated language pursuant to the provisions of the Act. The updated language contained in the FBI’s NSL template reads as follows:

“In accordance with 18 U.S.C. § 3511(b), you have the right to have a court review the nondisclosure requirement imposed in connection with this letter. If you wish to have a court conduct such a review, you may file a petition for judicial review in any court described in 18 U.S.C. § 3511(a). In the alternative, you may notify the FBI of your desire for judicial review of the nondisclosure requirement. Written notice may be mailed or faxed to [the FBI Division Field Office that issued the NSL], with a copy mailed to FBI Headquarters, 935 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20535, Attention: General Counsel. Your notice should reference the date of this letter and the File Number listed on the upper left corner of this letter. If the FBI determines that the nondisclosure requirement continues to be appropriate, not later than 30 days after the date of the FBI’s receipt of the notice, the FBI shall apply in a court described in 18 U.S.C. § 3511(b)(1)(B) for an order prohibiting the disclosure of the existence or contents of this letter. The nondisclosure requirement shall remain in effect during the pendency of the legal proceedings relating to the nondisclosure requirement.”

NSL Nondisclosure Termination Procedures

In accordance with the Uniting and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ensuring Effective Discipline over Monitoring Act (USA FREEDOM Act), the U.S. Attorney General approved the attached “Termination Procedures for National Security Letter Nondisclosure Requirement.”

The procedures require the FBI to re-review the need for the nondisclosure requirement of an NSL three years after the initiation of a full investigation and at the closure of the investigation, and to terminate the nondisclosure requirement when the facts no longer support nondisclosure. These procedures apply to investigations that close or reach their three year anniversary on or after the effective date of these procedures. Upon a determination that the facts no longer support nondisclosure, the FBI will send to the recipient of the NSL a notice that the Bureau has lifted the nondisclosure obligation.

For more information, read the completed document for the Termination Procedures for National Security Letter Nondisclosure Requirement