This news started hitting the internet yesterday and has become a big issue, especially among privacy advocates, and I don’t blame them! If you’re a Verizon customer, the NSA (National Security Agency) has started collecting phone records of millions of their subscribers under a top secret court order that was issued back in April.
The order, a copy of which has been obtained by the Guardian (this link will show you the actual court order), requires Verizon on an “ongoing, daily basis” to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries.
The secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (Fisa) granted the order to the FBI on April 25, giving the government unlimited authority to obtain the data for a specified three-month period ending on July 19.
Under the terms of the blanket order, the numbers of both parties on a call are handed over, as is location data, call duration, unique identifiers, and the time and duration of all calls. The contents of the conversation itself are not covered.
It specifies that the records to be produced include “session identifying information”, such as “originating and terminating number”, the duration of each call, telephone calling card numbers, trunk identifiers, International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) number, and “comprehensive communication routing information”.
It is not known if other cell carriers are required to turn over this information as well, or if it is only Verizon.
The White House on Thursday defended the National Security Agency’s need to collect telephone records of U.S. citizens, calling such information “a critical tool in protecting the nation from terrorist threats.”
There has been conspiracies about government spying for decades, and this leak of information solidifies the fact that our government can obtain almost any information they want. The Fourth Amendment in the Constitution protects our privacy as US Citizens, but it is clear that the government has interpreted this in their own way, giving them access to secret courts and secret laws to do as they see fit.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Big Brother really is watching your every move!
Update 6/6/13 @ 1:45PM CST:
In a letter to employees, Randy Milch, Verizon’s general counsel made the following statement:
Verizon continually takes steps to safeguard its customers’ privacy. Nevertheless, the law authorizes the federal courts to order a company to provide information in certain circumstances, and if Verizon were to receive such an order, we would be required to comply.