Do you use Verizon as your telephone service provider? You may want to reconsider, because your records are being routinely turned over to the federal government.
The stink that the Justice Department caused when they collected the phone records of Associated Press reporters and offices for two months is nothing as compared to the National Security Agency‘s latest stunt. Along with the Justice Department, it’s collecting the records of all Verizon customers pursuant to a secret April court order, according to The Guardian.
The order, issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and signed by Judge Roger Vinson, authorized the NSA to collect the numbers of each party on a call, location data, duration of the call, as well as any unique identifiers for a three-month period ending July 19. It does not authorize the recording of conversations.
THe Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald reported:
The unlimited nature of the records being handed over to the NSA is extremely unusual. Fisa court orders typically direct the production of records pertaining to a specific named target who is suspected of being an agent of a terrorist group or foreign state, or a finite set of individually named targets.
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court was established in 1978 “as a special court and authorized the Chief Justice of the United States to designate seven federal district court judges to review applications for warrants related to national security investigations,” according to its website.
The White House, NSA and Justice Department all declined to comment on the order, as did Verizon, which is expressly prohibited from disclosing the existance of the order.
“We decline comment,” said Ed McFadden, a Washington-based Verizon spokesman.
Historically, orders from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court were restricted to collecting data on international calls, especially those to or from North Africa and Middle Eastern countries. This order, however, applies not only to international calls — regardless of ciuntry — but also those “wholly within the United States, including local telephone calls,” according to the order’s language.
It’s unknown whether other wireless service providers are involved, or if this three-month order is an isolated incident or the latest in a series of similar three-month orders.
When President Obama claimed his administration would be the most transparent in recent history, most people thought this would mean that information would be flowing freely from the governmentto the people — not the other way around.
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