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Washington (AFP) – The United States is to give technology firms more leeway to publish broad details of how their customer data has been targeted by U.S. spy agencies, officials said Monday.

Attorney General Eric Holder and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said communications providers would be allowed to disclose figures on consumer accounts requested.

“The administration is acting to allow more detailed disclosures about the number of national security orders and requests issued to communications providers,” they said, in a joint statement.

In a letter to tech giants Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft and Yahoo, the Justice Department freed them release the approximate number of customer accounts targeted.

Previously, the existence of orders made by the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for access to private online data was itself classified, to the outrage of the firms.

In addition to the bare numbers of targeted consumers, the companies will also be permitted to disclose the number but not the nature of selection criteria for broader Internet sweeps.

AFP Photo/Nicholas Kamm

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Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons, a novel and a memoir. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

Kathy Barnette

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Kathy Barnette, a Trumpist conspiracy-peddling Republican candidate in the Pennsylvania Senate race who has been rising through the ranks, speeding even past big-spending rivals, is facing waves of criticism and public backlash for her past anti-Muslim tweets.

On Sunday, in an interview with Fox News Sunday host Shannon Bream, after bobbing and weaving on questions probing her military service, Barnette tried to downplay the gravity of Islamophobic tweets that she had penned.

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