US government shown to be collecting millions of Verizon phone records

Many of us who make phone calls every day might think that they are being monitored by an outside group or government entity. For millions of Verizon customers, that appears to be actually happening. The Guardian website reports it has received a leaked copy of a top secret court order that forces Verizon to turn over phone records to the National Security Agency.

The story has a link to a copy of the specific court order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. It gives the US government permission to obtain phone records, both generated domestically and internationally, from Verizon's Business Network Services and Verizon Business Services. The court order does not seem to extend to Verizon's consumer phone service nor does it cover the Verizon Wireless mobile phone service.

While the court order does not allow the government to actually listen to the content of any Verizon phone calls, they can get information on things like the time and length of each call, the locations from where the calls originated and more. The court order also keeps Verizon from telling its affected customers their phone records are being turned over to the NSA.

At the moment, it's not clear just what the US government is doing with all of those phone records. So far, the NSA, the Obama administration and Verizon have yet to comment on the court order. However, that has not stopped security experts from offering their opinions. The story quotes Julian Sanchez, a surveillance expert with the Cato Institute, as saying:

We've certainly seen the government increasingly strain the bounds of 'relevance' to collect large numbers of records at once — everyone at one or two degrees of separation from a target — but vacuuming all metadata up indiscriminately would be an extraordinary repudiation of any pretense of constraint or particularized suspicion.

It's not yet known if the NSA is also receiving phone records from other large telephone companies such as AT&T.

Source: The Guardian | Image: Spy picture via Shutterstock

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If you say it on the internet, over a phone, or otherwise within the vicinity of any electronic device, assume that it will be seen by the government.

That includes posts on Neowin.

Right now Neowin is putting a backdoor for the government to access our posts

IPB version 3.4.5 is coming [strike]I can't wait[/strike] We can't wait for the update!

Same here, but guess what...ALL carriers have and are reporting...and if they really need it, actual recordings are available...of course you won't find out about that publicly for a few more years...so watch what you say people. Fake left/right nonsense passing blame is pointless distraction.

yes that is true... IRS agent already spy on you when you steal thier tax stuff, then they track you down and they visit your house and arrest you, because they can hear their voice over the phone.

For those that want to break out your tinfoil hats and blame government, here are the bullet points:

1 - from Verizon's Business Network Services and Verizon Business Services
2 - The court order does not seem to extend to Verizon's consumer phone service nor does it cover the Verizon Wireless mobile phone service.
3 - While the court order does not allow the government to actually listen to the content of any Verizon phone calls, they can get information on things like the time and length of each call, the locations from where the calls originated and more.

Seems to me this should be a non-issue for your average American, yes I know, the second you give up X right they will try and take Y right... I'd assume less than 1% of the population is actually effected by this but this is just more ammo for you anti-government nuts.

jerzdawg said,
For those that want to break out your tinfoil hats and blame government, here are the bullet points:

1 - from Verizon's Business Network Services and Verizon Business Services
2 - The court order does not seem to extend to Verizon's consumer phone service nor does it cover the Verizon Wireless mobile phone service.
3 - While the court order does not allow the government to actually listen to the content of any Verizon phone calls, they can get information on things like the time and length of each call, the locations from where the calls originated and more.

Seems to me this should be a non-issue for your average American, yes I know, the second you give up X right they will try and take Y right... I'd assume less than 1% of the population is actually effected by this but this is just more ammo for you anti-government nuts.

You forgot to mention that the points you are making are based on the document that leaked.... Or do you have access to all the other ones?

Fritzly said,

You forgot to mention that the points you are making are based on the document that leaked.... Or do you have access to all the other ones?

Not sure I fully understand you, if this is the only information to go off of then thats the only way to make a point, unless others are going to make points with zero information.....?

jerzdawg said,

Not sure I fully understand you, if this is the only information to go off of then thats the only way to make a point, unless others are going to make points with zero information.....?

What the information LEAKED shows is that contrary to what the government stated over and over the spying on citizens is not based on subjects who could raise some suspicions but it a generalized practice that affects everybody. Furthermore I am not aware that Verizon has any special arrangement with terrorists and drug dealers therefore while the only document surfaced is the one targeting Verizon you can be reassured that there are others covering all other providers and other categories of customers as well.

A guest (can't remember who) said on the Daily Show/Colbert Report that the US has two parties: a conservative party and a even more conservative one.

Luc2k said,
A guest (can't remember who) said on the Daily Show/Colbert Report that the US has two parties: a conservative party and a even more conservative one.
Was it funny? Because to be honest Ive never been able to tell when those guys are struggling to be funny, or just aren't.

MikeInBA said,
Was it funny? Because to be honest Ive never been able to tell when those guys are struggling to be funny, or just aren't.

It was sad, because it's true and in case you missed the first part: IT WAS A GUEST THAT SAID IT.

I love how all the far right republicans are bashing Obama over this.. last I checked the PATRIOT act was pushed under what party? and what party wanted it renewed again and again for "national security"? now that this leaks it's all "look what the democrats are doing!" ugh I hate politics

neufuse said,
I love how all the far right republicans are bashing Obama over this.. last I checked the PATRIOT act was pushed under what party? and what party wanted it renewed again and again for "national security"? now that this leaks it's all "look what the democrats are doing!" ugh I hate politics

We're just going to get louder after the Bengazi, and IRS scandals...
A lot of us didn't want the Patriot act or didn't now what the effects would be.... It was a knee jerk reaction to 9/11. None the less, it was our party and I'd be alright if we got rid of it.

Apples and oranges. First, there were a fair number on the right who opposed the Patriot Act, and Bush was hardly a conservative, the the better choice at the time with respect to Gore and Kerry. Second, the wiretapping under Bush applied ONLY to calls that originated from OUTSIDE of the country, to individuals who were suspected of having terrorist ties. The program in question here applies to ALL domestic calls, without even the need to suspect criminal activity of any sort on behalf of either party to the call.

neufuse said,
I love how all the far right republicans are bashing Obama over this.. last I checked the PATRIOT act was pushed under what party? and what party wanted it renewed again and again for "national security"? now that this leaks it's all "look what the democrats are doing!" ugh I hate politics

You do remember what the make up of congress was that time right? And each time it came up for renewal, you are aware it couldn't pass without both parties right? Or that the last 2 years of Bush, the Democrats had veto proof majorities? It has been close to a decade, so I understand.

MikeInBA said,

You do remember what the make up of congress was that time right? And each time it came up for renewal, you are aware it couldn't pass without both parties right? Or that the last 2 years of Bush, the Democrats had veto proof majorities? It has been close to a decade, so I understand.

isn't that my point? It's not a one side thing, maybe I am just saying it wrong... I'm trying to say one side always blames the other even when they both had a hand in it, yet it's both sides fault...

neufuse said,

isn't that my point? It's not a one side thing, maybe I am just saying it wrong... I'm trying to say one side always blames the other even when they both had a hand in it, yet it's both sides fault...

When Bush was president, the Democrats were up in arms about this sort of thing. Now that we have a Democratic President, no one really seems to care. It's all Obama's fault now, so they'll just conveniently erase all memories of the previous administration's doings from their minds. Scary, isn't it?

bguy_1986 said,

We're just going to get louder after the Bengazi, and IRS scandals...
A lot of us didn't want the Patriot act or didn't now what the effects would be.... It was a knee jerk reaction to 9/11. None the less, it was our party and I'd be alright if we got rid of it.

I forgot to add the AP scandal... and now I've just been informed of an EPA scandal (that also involves the IRS)

No different than what Google, or most other sites and carriers collect. This is about a non news article, in todays world, although I've already seen it plastered all over a ton of other sites this morning.

yardmanflex said,
Look at you blaming Obama for something that was already in place before he took office..SMFH

Except that Obama has 5+ years chance to stop it, but he didn't even try.
The very signs he want to use it, don't you say?

Please start practicing: "Heil Obama!" from now on.

Torolol said,

Except that Obama has 5+ years chance to stop it, but he didn't even try.
The very signs he want to use it, don't you say?

Please start practicing: "Heil Obama!" from now on.

Did you learn well practicing it with Bush?
What you miss is that no President would give up of any kind of power inherited from his predecessors and the lobbies that put him there.
Last one who spooked about it:
http://coursesa.matrix.msu.edu/~hst306/documents/indust.html