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THE UNITED STATES NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY (NSA) reportedly has been collecting telephone call data on millions of customers on the Verizon network under a “top-secret court order” that was issued in April.
The Guardian has learned of NSA’s snooping, having seen the court order, which reveals that US telecom operator Verizon has been required to hand over information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries, on a daily basis.
Under the order, Verizon is forbidden to tell its customers about the surveillance, raising the question as to whether similar US or even UK telecom operators have been given similar orders.
The Inquirer says that according to the report, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court granted the order to the FBI on 25 April, giving the thumbs up to the collection of users’ location data, call duration and the time phone calls are made, but does not include recordings of conversations.
The Guardian said the document “shows for the first time that under the Obama administration the communication records of millions of US citizens are being collected indiscriminately and in bulk – regardless of whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing”.
The order states that the snooping can continue until 19 July, although it’s possible that the order could be renewed.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has been quick to slam the order, and has launched an online petition demanding that the US Congress investigate the claims.
It said, “It’s outrageous that the government conspired with Verizon to monitor millions of American phone calls. Congress must investigate immediately and disclose its findings to the public.”
Verizon and the NSA are yet to comment.