DoJ releases two dozen reports on pen registers and trap-and-trace devices at EPIC’s request

Eric Holder
Eric Holder

Attorney General Eric Holder, through the Department of Justice, declassified and released on Feb. 28 two dozen documents that were responsive to a portion of a Freedom of Information Act request made by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC).

To see the text of the reports, click here.

These one-page documents, titled The Attorney General’s Report on the Use of Pen Registers and Trap and Trace Devices under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, are reports to the intelligence and judiciary committees of Congress that identify how many applications the U.S. Government filed with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) seeking authorization to use pen registers and/or trap and trace devices, and how many the FISC authorized during specific time periods.

The documents cover the time period from 2001 through 2012.

“EPIC has obtained reports that detail the number of times the Surveillance Court authorized the use of techniques that gather the telephone numbers and metadata of phone customers and Internet users,” said an article published on EPIC’s own Web site. “The previously secret reports obtained by EPIC cover the period between 2000 and 2013. “The reports reveal a dramatic increase in the use of these techniques in 2004 and then a significant reduction in 2008, likely the consequence of a shift to other investigative techniques,” the EPIC article continues. “The documents show that nearly all applications to the Surveillance Court were approved without modifications.” In 2013, EPIC petitioned the Supreme Court to end the bulk telephone record collection program. Former members of the Church Committee and dozens of legal scholars supported the EPIC petition.