Officials comment on the Verizon court order: if the NSA doesn't mine phone calls, the terrorists win
Verizon used to buck the all-powerful National Security Agency just as recently as 2006, refusing to give up phone call records, but the cards have been on the table for quite a while now, it seems, judging from the leaked secret court order yesterday.
Finally there are some comments from the administration defending the practice, which say, as you could have guessed even before security officials speak, that data mining of call logs is necessary to thwart terrorist threats and the like. The leaked court order was stamped by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court on April 25 and lasts about three months.
That might not sound as a long period, but ordering Verizon to give the NSA bulk call data for millions of customers on an "ongoing, daily basis" even for a day is troubling, to say the least. These include time and duration of calls, location data, as well as the phones' serial numbers, including calls that originated or were relayed abroad, but not the content of the calls themselves. The unnamed official defended the practice, which is legally based on provisions in the controversial Patriot Act instituted after 9/11:
Information of the sort described in this article from The Guardian newspaper has been a critical tool in protecting the nation from terrorist threats to the United States as it allows counterterrorism personnel to discover whether known or suspected terrorists have been in contact with other persons who may be engaged in terrorist activities, particularly people located in the United States... On its face, the order reprinted in the article does not allow the government to listen in on anyone's telephone calls.
This story is part of: NSA data collection - PRISM(19 updates)
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