National Security Agency collecting data from Verizon calls on 'ongoing, daily basis' (update)

By on June 6, 2013, 12:30 PM

The National Security Agency is secretly collecting telephone records from millions of Verizon customers in the U.S., reports The Guardian. A top-secret court order issued in April under the Patriot Act requires that Verizon give the NSA information on all telephone calls within its systems on an “ongoing, daily basis.”

The order applies to both domestic calls, and calls between the U.S. and other countries, and covers all calls from any customer whether they are suspected of wrongdoing or not.

Update: More information has been untapped detailing a NSA program, code-named PRISM, which would be collecting directly from the servers of several technology companies in the US, including Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple. However, several of these companies have been quick to deny such claims, saying they do not provide any government agency with direct access to their servers.

The original story follows below:

The order was handed down to the FBI by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court on April 25, and grants the government authority to gather data until July 19.

The data collected includes phone numbers of both caller and recipient, location information, call duration, unique identifiers, and the time the call occurred. However, the content of the conversation is not available under the terms of the blanket order.

It’s not yet known whether additional carriers were served with similar NSA orders; recipients are explicitly prohibited from discussing the matter, so it’s quite possible that other large carriers were targeted as well. AT&T declined to comment when contacted by the New York Times.

It’s also unclear whether this three-month order is unique, or if similar orders have been issued in the past. The Bush administration is known to have carried out similar surveillance without court orders after the 9/11 attacks, and it is now speculated that the government may have continued collecting data but moved the activity under the Patriot Act without disclosure.

The Obama administration has this morning declined to comment about this specific order, but said the practice was “a critical tool in protecting the nation from terrorist threats to the United States.”

The disclosure of the order has reignited the debates in the U.S. over the reach of government surveillance powers.




User Comments: 24

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wastedkill said:

A critical tool in protecting the nation from terrorist threats to the United States.? So its that critical your missing out the most important thing to do with terrorist threats... its not critical then is it its no where near if you don't hear "I am bombing x y z in x days" then it does NOTHING!!!

TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

I'm all for taking aggressive steps to fight terrorism, but this goes WAY beyond that. If they want this kind of information, they should get a search warrant.

MilwaukeeMike said:

When the patriot act passed under the Bush administration everyone freaked out because we all thought the govt was spying on us. A few years later Obama became a senator and also spoke out against it.

Now Obama is president and has actually expanded the program to include domestic phone calls instead of just ones overseas. So we've got two presidents, who most would consider being rather opposite in most areas, doing the same thing. To me that sounds like maybe they know something we don't know, and maybe checking phone calls is a 'critical tool'.

I read in another story that they only monitor 'metadata' on the calls meaning what number called what number and how long they were on the line. No conversations were included, which means @wastedkill that you'd never hear someone say anything about bomb.

Personally I'm not too worried... they completely missed the Boston bombers and they had all sorts of red flags seem obvious after the fact, so they can't be watching (listening to) us too closely.

MilwaukeeMike said:

I'm all for taking aggressive steps to fight terrorism, but this goes WAY beyond that. If they want this kind of information, they should get a search warrant.

From the USA Today "The data collected by NSA included information about the phone numbers involved in calls and the length of the calls and other identifying information, but not the content of the conversation." [link]

I imagine they take the phone numbers of known terrorists or Al Qaeda sympathizers etc and they check who's calling them or who they are calling. if they see a number show up a bunch of times they might see if that person is calling other people on their watch list. If they find they are, they might try to figure out who it is and see if maybe their last name is Tsarnaev for example. The Boston bombers didn't wake up one morning and decide to make a bomb; it was months in the planning.

Littleczr Littleczr said:

I personally do not care because I have nothing to hide. I don't think they will be interested in my conversations with my girlfriend and how cute her bunnies are.

Nima304 said:

I wonder if Verizon actually fought for the privacy of their customers, or if they simply handed the information over.

Tygerstrike said:

@Nima

Im pretty sure NONE of the carriers fought for us. And I know why. NSA wants phone info. Carriers go "NO WAY". FCC steps in, end of fight. The problem is that the regulatory agency that oversees wireless comunications is also Federally controlled. SO even if they did fight for us, the NSA can make a whole ton of trouble for ANY US carrier simply by going over the carriers heads.

spencer spencer said:

Like I haven't said this before, and every phone conversation you've had in the last 12 years; all your browsing history;and drones above your head.

1 person liked this | spencer spencer said:

I personally do not care because I have nothing to hide. I don't think they will be interested in my conversations with my girlfriend and how cute her bunnies are.
Hey buddy; In America you are proven innocent until guilty not guilty until proven innocent; And the people they call terrorists now days are me,people that are trying to wake this nation up before it's too late(or before the NWO is completed) Ever seen the patriot act;It says a suspected terrorist(any of Americas enemys, tea party members and people trying to wake others up and scape goats) Anybody in the mighty nation of America can be detained indefinitely for NO reason and get NO trial just because they are labeled terrorists; The reason this was passed is because of people like you saying "well im not guilty so I have nothing to hide).

1 person liked this | Guest said:

Nice going spencer, tell him and shake him out of his ignorance.

The US is the worlds WORST country and it shouldn't come as a

surprise this is happening. The problem with you people, is that you accept

so much bullshit and when you actually get a peek into what's happening, you're

bullshitted with things like "National security". **** national security. This is about

freedom. It's NOT OKAY to spy on citizens; whether for "good" reasons or not.

Because a country with as corrupt institutions like the US, will slip and fall given

that chance. Maybe if you knew what freedom was, you'd actually be out on the streets

protesting this. But no, you aren't. You sit at home, praising soldiers who fight your wars,

as freedom fighters and you take offense if people don't offer those soldiers positive

words. Yet do you fight for the freedoms that soldiers past and present have secured, as it

slowly gets more and more eroded by corrupt governments, large companies and

ever-expanding legislation that makes crimes like these acceptable? No.

MilwaukeeMike said:

Ah the anarchists showed up. @spencer and Guest... the irony of course is that if the US was half as oppressive as you guys make out you'd both have been 'detained indefinitely for NO reason and get NO trial,' but as it stands here we are... saying all sorts of bad things about the govt and no one cares in the least.

Let's be honest... the worst that's going to happen is the govt is going to check who's calling conservative radio shows etc and turn their numbers over to the IRS for auditing

Guest said:

TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

I'm all for taking aggressive steps to fight terrorism, but this goes WAY beyond that. If they want this kind of information, they should get a search warrant.

No longer is it innocent until proven guilty, now it's guilty until proven innocent with conditions.

1 person liked this | TJGeezer said:

Now Obama is president and has actually expanded the program to include domestic phone calls instead of just ones overseas.

The important thing is that Verizon won't be charging its customers anything extra for this monitoring service: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/borowitzreport/2013/06
a-letter-to-verizon-customers.html?mbid=nl_Borowitz%20(134)

1 person liked this | Guest said:

Oh yes MilawaukeeMike, that's the worst.

Completely forgotten all about the spy-center in Utah so quickly? Shame. I hear it's a real looker.

Detained for an indefinite amount of time with no trial. Sounds familiar... Ah you must be

referencing guantanamo of course! So your point was?

A lot of bad things about the government. Sadly all true too.

spencer spencer said:

Ah the anarchists showed up. @spencer and Guest... the irony of course is that if the US was half as oppressive as you guys make out you'd both have been 'detained indefinitely for NO reason and get NO trial,' but as it stands here we are... saying all sorts of bad things about the govt and no one cares in the least.

Let's be honest... the worst that's going to happen is the govt is going to check who's calling conservative radio shows etc and turn their numbers over to the IRS for auditing

I'm an Anarcho-Capitalist or in other words I believe A voluntary society I don't blame capitalism for our problems but government bureaucrats And a free voluntary society would work 10x better than the current system

if you want to see how true anarchy works watch a youtube video called Law with government:conflict in a free society.

MilwaukeeMike said:

Ah you must be referencing Guantanamo of course!So your point was?

I wasn't talking about Gitmo, I was quoting Spencer, word for word. Perhaps he was talking about Gitmo? My point was that if were as bad as you're making out, you'd be IN Gitmo.

I'm not saying what they're doing is ok, but the exaggeration around this is getting out of hand. The ACLU called it 'beyond Orwellian' Referencing George Orwell's book 1984 in which the govt has a TV with a camera on it in everyone's home (so they can make sure you're watching the propaganda AND smiling through it) and people disappear in the night if they're accused of even having a thought against the govt. To say this is 'beyond' that doesn't really leave any description left for the next privacy scandal. At the rate this administration is going, the next scandal should hit the front page in the next 10 days or so.

Guest said:

I am curious as to why you people don't want your phone records to be known to law enforcement.

Guest said:

Because its a thing of freedom, no matter if you have someting to hide or not you have your privacy and the right for that privacy its moronic to let go that right just like that....and thats just one example cuz it applies with aaaaaany other things, that they want to remove fro the citizens. you only need comun sense to see that they are not going to do something really good with that info....its against you and screw everyone they can

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Ah the anarchists showed up. @spencer and Guest...
Be sure to put me on the list to. Oh and I'm actually using my full real name.

Monitoring people's conversations is a step in silencing them from expressing their true opinions.

Besides this whole endeavor is more of Governmental Security than it is National Security.

1 person liked this | Guest said:

Amazing how some people think its ok for government to intrude in your personal lives because you "have nothing to hide". This is the motto of a man fitted to be a slave. Under both parties we have lost many of our freedoms that this country was founded upon. The IRS can enter your business or seize your assets with no warrant, and you have to prove you are innocent---unconstitutional. The NSA and other government agencies under the guise of "protecting you", can arrest you with no warrant or trial and spy on your communications--unconstitutional. We absolutely need a strong and vigorous government to defend our property rights, attacks against enemies within and without and to make sure everyone is treated justly under the law. But we don't need a nanny state or a government that intrudes in our lives indiscriminately without a compelling reason. If the IRS can be used for political means, then what makes you think that any other information a government body has on you cannot also be used against you? This is chilling to me and I fear portends more violations of our rights to come.

Tiberath Tiberath said:

There's two ways to look at it. One is the invasion of privacy from law enforcement.

The other is the fact lots of people's personal information is now being kept/archived in multiple places. Who's to say law enforcement will do a better job at securing your personal info than telco companies? Not to mention that law enforcement will have a larger array of data and make them a more enticing target.

Guest said:

Seriously .. WHO CARES!?!?! If you are not doing anything wrong, this does not effect you in any way whatsoever. If anything it could save your life someday. You all need to put on your big boy pants, and get over the 'embarrassment' of having someone listening to your 'naughty' phone calls. Because that is the ONLY reason that anyone with half a sane mind would have a problem with this. Period.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Seriously .. WHO CARES!?!?! If you are not doing anything wrong, this does not effect you in any way whatsoever. If anything it could save your life someday. You all need to put on your big boy pants, and get over the 'embarrassment' of having someone listening to your 'naughty' phone calls. Because that is the ONLY reason that anyone with half a sane mind would have a problem with this. Period.

Since we are all being asked to forget about privacy, I want to listen in on all of congress phone calls. After all it is not that big a deal, I swear I am gain for it. I have absolutely nothing to loose, it is the principle of privacy being one way.

I'm tired of governmental secretes, especially if it is going to allow a group of people to run around as if they are God. Everyone should be held accountable by the people, this includes governments.

spencer spencer said:

Seriously .. WHO CARES!?!?! If you are not doing anything wrong, this does not effect you in any way whatsoever. If anything it could save your life someday. You all need to put on your big boy pants, and get over the 'embarrassment' of having someone listening to your 'naughty' phone calls. Because that is the ONLY reason that anyone with half a sane mind would have a problem with this. Period.
Let me make this clear:INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY.

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