As fantastic as it may read, a newly revealed secret court document shows for the first time that the United States National Security Agency (NSA) has been collecting telephone records on millions of regular customers on Verizon’s network. This data was given to the NSA by order of a top-secret court order granted by the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court on April 25, 2013 and signed by a Judge Roger Vinson.
The revelation of the order came by way of the Guardian and clearly shows that Verizon, which is one of the largest telecom providers in the U.S., was to surrender the phone records on millions of their customers. Specifically, the order reads that all records were to be turned over on an “ongoing, daily basis” as well, and this would include all calls coming in and all calls going out of the United States.
This document, which was granted by U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), is damning evidence that proves the Obama administration has been collecting private data on U.S. citizens whether they were wanted or suspected of any wrongdoing whatsoever.
FISC granted the order on April 25, 2013 and allowed unlimited authority in regards to obtaining all phone digitized data inside Verizon’s phone database. Of the data to be handed over by Verizon, they are obligated to include location data on all calls, identifiers of the calls, call duration and time.
The document forces Verizon to hand over 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”. However, the order does not state that any voice or messaging data had to be turned over from Verizon.
The secret order is set to expire on July 19, 2013 and was signed by Judge Roger Vinson.
Critics of the U.S. federal government have routinely cried foul in regards to privacy and what they deem to be an illegal search and seizure. This latest secret document will only ignite more debates on whether the Justice department is in blatant violation of the U.S. Constitution and particularly in regards to illegal search and seizure. What makes the order even more controversial is that it forbids Verizon from even making mention of its existence.
The biggest question by many security experts now, is why does the NSA need such a large amount of phone record data from Verizon in the first place?