Under orders from a secret court, Verizon has been giving the National Security Agency its call records for millions of U.S. customers every day since late April, The Guardian reported Wednesday.
Until July 19, Verizon is required to turn over information on all domestic and international calls on an "ongoing, daily basis," even if customers are not suspected of a crime, according to an order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which the London-based news organization obtained.
The contents of the calls are not reported, but "the numbers of both parties on a call are handed over, as is location data, call duration, unique identifiers and the time and duration of all calls," The Guardian writes.
Verizon is prohibited from publicly disclosing the court order or the FBI's request on behalf of the NSA. "We decline comment," Ed McFadden, a Washington-based Verizon spokesman, told The Guardian.
The National Security Agency, the White House and the Department of Justice declined to comment before The Guardian published the report by Glenn Greenwald.
He writes: Under the Bush administration, officials in security agencies had disclosed to reporters the large-scale collection of call records data by the NSA, but this is the first time significant and top-secret documents have revealed the continuation of the practice on a massive scale under President Obama. ... The unlimited nature of the records being handed over to the NSA is extremely unusual.
FISA court orders typically direct the production of records pertaining to a specific named target who is suspected of being an agent of a terrorist group or foreign state, or a finite set of individually named targets. ... The revelations are "likely to reignite long-standing debates in the U.S. over the proper extent of the government's domestic spying powers," Greenwald writes.
It wasn't known whether other cellphone companies have been hit with similar orders.
By: Michael Winter, USA TODAY