If you are a Verizon customer, the next time you pick up the phone to make a call ”“ the government could wind up knowing where the call was made and to whom. Why? Because recent reports state that the National Security Agency (NSA) has been collecting telephone records of millions of Verizon customers. How? A court order issued in April that no one really knows about allows the government to conduct such activities that the Administration calls a ‘critical tool’ against terrorism. They insist that they are not listening in to what is being said in the calls. How can they be trusted?
The Guardian (a national daily newspaper in Britain) is one of the news outlets which have made a recently leaked government document a hot conversation topic. We’ve newly learned that under the order of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), Verizon Business Services must provide the NSA with information from calls that take place in the United States to parties located overseas. This ongoing monitoring that takes place on a daily basis also applies to calls that stay inside of the U.S.
It doesn’t matter if a party is suspected of conducting any wrongdoing, the records of communication activities of millions of citizens in the United States have already been collected without their knowing. The records are also being gathered in bulk ”“ that’s a lot of information being stored on innocent individuals who up until recently had no idea what the government has been doing.
The documented proof has people chattering across online channels, especially social media outlets that are having a field day with this latest invasion of privacy. The order was issued on April 25 and remains valid until July 19 ”“ making it a requirement for Verizon to turn over the numbers of both parties in a phone call, as well as the location data, call duration, and other details. However, the contents of the calls will supposedly remain uninterrupted or shared.
When news first broke on the story, the White House chose to initially stay ‘mum’ about the circumstances, but a senior administration official offered a defense regarding the actions of the government without actually confirming the details of the specific report. The official did state that the government was not given permission to listen in to anyone’s’ telephone conversations.
The order in question stems from a section of the Patriot Act, which includes a ‘business records provision’ that allows FBI agents to seek a court order to collect ‘any tangible things (including books, records, papers, documents, and other items)’ that are believed relevant to any investigation. However, the interpretation of such provisions seems to have been stretched a bit in this case.
And, those with an interest in fighting for the rights of the public have already voiced their opinions.
Former vice president Al Gore took to Twitter to make his displeasure in the actions of the government known. Michelle Richardson, the Legislative Counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) called this type of surveillance ‘unconstitutional’ and urged the government to end it. She also called for Congress to launch a full investigation into the full scope of the government’s actions.