Thousands targeted by spying orders

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Tens of thousands of people around the world were targeted by U.S. surveillance orders last year, the government revealed on Friday.

According to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), the U.S. targeted the communications of nearly 90,000 foreign people, organizations or other targets.

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Additionally, in 2013 the FBI issued more than 19,000 national security letters, which the agency uses to get information about people’s communications without a warrant. Those letters contained nearly 39,000 requests for information, which the ODNI noted is likely larger than the actual number of people targeted by the letters because many may be aimed at multiple email addresses or other accounts controlled by the same person.

The revelations were disclosed in the ODNI’s first transparency report about secret U.S. spying operations.

The report comes months after an order from President Obama to declassify “as much information as possible” about government operations, in the wake of leaks from former contractor Edward Snowden.

“Today, and consistent with the DNI’s directive on August 29, 2013, we are releasing information related to the use of these important tools, and will do so in the future on an annual basis,” the ODNI said in releasing the report

Other intelligence operations targeted fewer individuals.

For instance, the National Security Agency (NSA) used 423 “selectors” to search through people’s phone records. That resulted in 248 “known or presumed” Americans whose information was collected by the agency.

The NSA’s phone records program, for which the agency has the ability to collect information about virtually every American’s phone calls, has emerged as one of the most controversial programs unveiled by the Snowden leaks. Legislation is currently working its way through Congress that would effectively end that program and require the NSA to get the records from private companies after obtaining a court order.