According to a new report, a newly leaked court order has revealed that the National Security Agency (or NSA) is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of United States cell phone users on Verizon Wireless.
The order, which was granted to the FBI by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA), requires the carrier to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its system from both within the US, and between the US and other countries…
The Guardian reports:
“The order, signed by Judge Roger Vinson, compels Verizon to produce to the NSA electronic copies of “all call detail records or ‘telephony metadata’ created by Verizon for communications between the United States and abroad” or “wholly within the United States, including local telephone calls”.
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.”
The order appears to be a follow-up to the data-mining program started by the Bush administration in 2001, immediately following the 9/11 attacks, in an effort to flush out terrorists. It wasn’t supposed to be declassified until April of 2038.
The report goes on to say that while the order doesn’t require call/message content or personal information, its collection would enable the NSA to build a “comprehensive picture” of who any individual contacted, with details like when, where and how.
As you can imagine, this story has erupted over the last 12 hours. At the time of this writing, ‘#NSA’ was trending on Twitter. Following the hashtag shows many Americans are outraged by the privacy breach, and Verizon customers are threatening to cancel service.
Obviously, both Verizon and the NSA have declined to comment at this time.
So, what do you make of all of this?