NEW YORK — The Obama administration has overseen a sharp increase in the number of people subjected to warrantless electronic surveillance of their telephone, email and Facebook accounts by federal law enforcement agencies, new documents released by the American Civil Liberties Union on Friday revealed.
The documents, released by the ACLU after a months-long legal battle with the Department of Justice, show that in the last two years, more people were spied on by the government than in the preceding decade. The documents do not include information on most terrorism investigations and requests from state and local law enforcers. Nor do they include surveillance by federal agencies outside Justice Department purview, like the Secret Service.
Department of Justice agencies obtained 37,616 court orders for information about phone calls in 2011, according to the documents. That’s an increase of 47 percent from the 25,535 orders obtained by the government in 2009. Including Internet and email information requests, more than 40,000 people were targeted in 2011.