U.S. government secretly collecting data on millions of Verizon users: Report

June 6, 2013 by  
Filed under General News


Can you hear me now? Eep. The National Security Agency (NSA) has been collecting telephone records of millions of Verizon customers – right down to local call data – under a top-secret court order issued in April, Britain’s The Guardian newspaper reported late Wednesday. UPDATE: The Administration responds, defending a “critical tool” against terrorism and underlining that the government is not listening in on anyone’s calls.

Under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) order, the Guardian reported, Verizon Business Services must provide the NSA “on an ongoing daily basis” with information from calls between the U.S. and overseas – but also with calls entirely inside the United States. Calls made entirely overseas were not affected. It was unclear whether phones in other Verizon divisions — its regular cell phone operations, for instance — were similarly targeted.

Guardian writer Glenn Greenwald, a frequent and fierce critic of the national security state’s expansion since 9-11, writes in his bombshell report that:

The document shows for the first time that under the Obama administration the communication records of millions of US citizens are being collected indiscriminately and in bulk – regardless of whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing.

The order, issued April 25 and valid through July 19, requires Verizon to turn over the numbers of both parties, location data, call duration, and other information – though not the contents of the calls.

The White House initially declined comment, but a senior administration official defended the activities described in the Guardian piece without confirming the specific report.

“On its face, the order reprinted in the article does not allow the Government to listen in on anyone’s telephone calls,” the official, who requested anonymity, said by email. “The information acquired does not include the content of any communications or the name of any subscriber.”

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