The Director of National Intelligence’s office has cleared another FISA court opinion [PDF] for release. These are getting far more interesting to read, even if little seems to be changing about the FBI/NSA’s collection methods. The process is now a little bit more adversarial, thanks to the USA Freedom Act, which introduced the possibility of someone arguing on behalf of the surveilled and in the interest of privacy and the Fourth Amendment.
Unfortunately, this opinion finds the FISA court mostly unimpressed with the counterarguments. The discussion involved the use of pen register orders to capture “post-cut through” dialing digits — the sort of thing the court determined to be content, rather than metadata in the past.
This time around, the court seems more amenable to the government’s arguments that any digits obtained along with dialed phone numbers is fair game — whether or not the orders actually allow for the collection of communications content.