The secretive FISA court based in Washington DC. (Image: file photo)

In its first year, the Trump administration kept one little-known courtroom in the capital busy.

A secretive Washington DC-based court that oversees the US government's foreign spy programs denied more surveillance orders during President Donald Trump's first year than in the court's 40-year history, according to newly released figures.

Annual data published Wednesday by the US Courts[1] shows that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) Court last year denied 26 applications in full, and 50 applications in part.

That's compared to 21 orders between when the court was first formed in 1978 and President Barack Obama's final year in office in 2016.

That's a rejection rate to date of 0.11 percent.

The report shows that 1,614 applications were made during 2017 to allow the National Security Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to intercept phone calls and emails. Breaking down that figure, the court said it permitted about three-quarters of all requests -- or 1,147 requests in full -- while 391 requests were granted after modification.

Specific reasons for the modifications were not given, but they can include changing who or what is surveilled and for what length.

A spokesperson for the White House's National Security Council did not immediately return a request for comment.

The figures are reported annually by the Justice Department to members of Congress, which also received a classified version of the report, as part of a requirement set out by the Freedom Act, passed in 2015 as an intelligence community reform effort[2] after the Edward Snowden revelations.

With that law's passing, five security-cleared attorneys -- who were named as amicus curiae[3] appointed to the

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