The US Government may have all of your phone records.
Verizon was issued a top-secret court order by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to hand over all US phone records to the National Security Agency and FBI. The order was reportedly issued in April, and all Verizon calls coming to and inside the US will be analyzed until July 19. According to The Guardian, Verizon is not allowed to talk about the court order.
The court order does not allow the government to listen in on conversations, but it grants access to metadata. This means the government can still look at who you are calling (number, not a name), when the call occurred, where the calls took place, and the duration of your calls. The Guardian said the government compares metadata to “looking at an envelope”.
The USA Today said this is nothing new. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said, “Everyone should just calm down and understand this isn’t anything brand new. It’s been going on for some seven years.”
A senior Obama Administration also wanted to make clear that this is not an abuse of power by the executive branch. The official told CNBC, “All three branches of government are involved in reviewing and authorizing.”
The Obama Administration also said this metadata is important to our national security. According to the Los Angeles Times, the official said data collection program “has been a critical tool in protecting the nation from terrorist threats.” The official explained and said, “[Telephone data] allows counterterrorism personnel to discover whether known or suspected in terrorists have been in contact with other persons who may be engaged in terrorist activities, particularly people located inside the United States.”
Of course, not everyone agrees with this move. Former Vice President Al Gore tweeted, “In digital era, privacy must be a priority. Is it just me or is secret blanket coverage obscenely outrageous?