A classified court order has been leaked to The Guardian, showing clearly how the National Security Administration has requested call logs data on millions of phone conversations
of Verizon customers.
Now we all know the government, and also private data mining companies, are snooping, but the extent of it seems breathtaking. Government has long argued that this is a public domain information, like looking at unopened envelopes, as the calls aren't associated with names, addresses, content and so on, but there are notions that call locations triangulation is also recorded.
For starters, the unique serial number of the phone you call from is recorded, too, as are time and duration, and these, together with the eventual location tracking, speaks volumes to anyone who's looking. Now these are all deemed for use as bulk call logs, meant for data mining, so that no probable cause is needed, yet the Electronic Frontier Foundation finds the whole matter pretty disturbing, especially in light of the recent AP journalists' snooping scandal. Gary Pruitt, the president of the Associated Press, agrees completely:
These records potentially reveal communications with confidential sources across all of the newsgathering activities undertaken by the AP during a two-month period, provide a road map to AP's newsgathering operations, and disclose information about AP's activities and operations that the government has no conceivable right to know.
This is a pretty new phenomenon, as now for the first time in history you always carry a rather tell-all device on you - your smartphone - and the issue might get to the Supreme Court one day. Despite that the court order only states to collect bulk logs for three months back, and the NSA doesn't really associate your name and address with it, they certainly could if the need arises, so you'd better get used to the times - even if you are not on Verizon, we'd wager to guess the other carriers have received similar NSA court orders
AT&T, for example, keeps your tower info indefinitely, Verizon for one "rolling" year, and Sprint for 18-24 months, and there are similar procedures for text messages. T-Mobile charges law enforcement $150 for an hour's worth of info what phone number was close to which towers, Verizon rakes in $30-$60 for 15 minutes, whereas AT&T likely charges $75 an hour with two to four hours minimum.
See the full text of the NSA court order obtained by The Guardian in the slideshow below.
NSA secret court order to Verizon leaks