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The Obama administration wants to include "electronic communication transactional records" on a list of items that the law says the FBI can collect from companies without a judge's approval, The Washington Post reported.
Those records would not include the content of e-mails, government lawyers told the newspaper. But the times and dates of e-mails, the addresses to which they were sent, as well as an individual's browser history could be included in an FBI request.
The White House has asked Congress to update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act with the new rules for the fiscal year that begins in October.
Law enforcement and Homeland Security officials hailed the proposal, saying it would speed up investigations by making it easier to obtain potentially important information.
Critics accuse the administration of weakening civil liberties in the name of national security. They say individual privacy is protected when federal investigations are required to pursue court orders to go after certain data.
"You're bringing a big category of data -- records reflecting who someone is communicating with in the digital world, Web browsing history and potentially location information -- outside of judicial review," Michael Sussmann, a Justice Department lawyer in the Clinton administration, told the Post.
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