Target Corp. has filed a federal lawsuit against Burlington, N.H., for violating a law that allows the FBI to use its National Security Letters (NSLs) to force its suppliers to turn over customer data.
The Burlington, Vt.-based chain of department stores has said that the FBI has used the NSLs to force suppliers to hand over customer information, which could include Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, or phone numbers.
But that’s just one of the potential violations the chain said in its lawsuit.
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, seeks to compel Target to hand the information over, as well as to prevent future violations.
The FBI’s use of the NLSs has not been publicly disclosed.
The NSL system is used to compel Internet service providers to turn customer information over to law enforcement agencies, but it is not limited to that.
Instead, the FBI can obtain the information using other types of warrants, including subpoenas.
Target did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Fox News.
The chain is one of several large retailers and discount chain that are facing the same problems as Burlington.
Target said in May that it would begin rolling out additional cybersecurity measures to address a number of threats, including the breach at the company’s computer network that led to a breach at another department store.
The chain is also seeking to limit the use of NSL requests by its suppliers.
“We have already begun a series of steps to mitigate the risk that future violations will occur,” Target CEO Doug McMillon said at the time.
“Target is committed to protecting the security of its customers, our stores and our supply chain.”
Burlington is one city where the FBI’s NSL program has come under fire.
The city’s attorney general, Peter J. DiNapoli, said in a letter to the Federal Communications Commission that the bureau’s use “has a chilling effect on the lawful production of records, and in some cases, has caused harm to private citizens.”
In a letter last month, DiNapolis said that his office has “no authority to issue subpoenas or other demands for information about our customers, suppliers, or any other parties” without a judge’s permission.
In January, DiPaolo also called for the FBI director to step down, saying the bureau is “trying to silence its critics by attempting to silence the law enforcement community.”
The Burlington Police Department said in April that the agency had received at least 50 subpoenas for information from the FBI this year, and said that “we do not believe the numbers represent any threat to public safety.”