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Verizon Forced to Hand Over Millions of Phone Records to NSA

NSA

In a court order obtained and then published last night by the Guardian, we now know that Verizon has been asked to hand over millions of phone records on a daily and ongoing basis to the NSA (National Security Agency). As you can imagine after reading that first sentence, people are not exactly excited about their information being handed out in secret, without their knowledge. As that report gained steam, the Obama administration went ahead and issued a statement this morning to try and calm the public outcry, though I’m not sure it will help at this point. 

According to the order, Verizon has been asked to hand over numbers of both parties on phone calls, along with location data, call duration, unique identifiers, and the time and duration of all calls. The information being given to the NSA does not include the contents of these messages nor does it contain personal information of Verizon’s subscribers or any other cell number. The information is being referred to as “metadata,” and could include calls domestically and internationally.

In the statement this morning, the Obama administration claims that this is “a critical tool in protecting the nation from terrorist threats to the United States,” and that “it allows counter-terrorism personnel to discover whether known or suspected terrorists have been in contact with other persons who may be engaged in terrorist activities, particularly people located inside the United States.”

According to the Guardian, this order gives the government “unlimited authority to obtain the data for a specified three-month period ending on July 19.” It also expressly bars Verizon from disclosing to the public either the existence of the FBI’s request for its customers’ records, or the court order itself. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (Fisa) granted the order to the FBI on April 25.

It’s unclear at this point if there are similar orders for AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile or any other U.S. carrier.

There is obviously a fine line being walked here. If there are no identifiers in the information being gathered, and it is a “critical” tool in counter-terrorism, there are going to be supporters of this type of secret information gathering. But then again, we are talking about your information, my information, being gathered without our knowledge. Privacy concerns are the topic here. This one is going to be in the news for a while, so we’d love to hear your opinions on it.

You can read the entire court order below.

Via:  Guardian [Court order document] | Reuters

Cheers Mike, Michael and Randy!

  • Kevin Cefalu

    Can someone get this prick out of office, please?

  • Rick Anderson

    pretty sure he said terrorism was dead

  • Steve

    And in a totally unrelated storythe Utah Data Center was just turned on…people you will rue the day you re-elected our dear leader…

  • Demiserv

    seriously??? anyone ever heard of a algorithm????? the number doesnt matter. they can and will link it seeing as how google was also forced to give information….NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO im sure since that means android phones information as well, that crapple and all is being monitored….time to get a passport

  • FknTwizted

    In the name of National Security lol what a joke… want to have better national security, then bring home our troops, shut down foreign bases. post our military at the borders, kick out the illegals.. People don’t let this administration scare you into giving up what so many have died to preserve. tyranny only exist where freedom does not.

  • Ryan

    Forgive me if someone has pointed this out, but I think what is being missed is that this was most likely a horrible decision on the judge’s part. No, we don’t have all the information, but can you logically imagine a real life scenario in which this would be necessary, or essentially real? Think about it. A robber sued the owner of the house he broke into because he cut himself while doing so… and he won. So the fact that a judge allowed this, unfortunately, in no way means that it is truly constitutional; it just means that there is a blatantly incompetent judge who can be pressured and bought in order to grossly violate the constitution. Don’t get so caught up in semantics and literal speaking/thinking that you miss how absolutely absurd and unlawful this is.

  • Col_Angus

    Now we know who was asking

  • DMZMAN

    >>>>>The information being given to the NSA does not include the contents of
    these messages nor does it contain personal information of Verizon’s
    subscribers or any other cell number<<<<<

    And how do we know if this is really true? The FACT is WE DON'T!!!!

  • Zee Masai

    Hey, if the government wants to hear me having phone sex with my wife, so be it.

    • FknTwizted

      Not the point.

  • equestrian_colt

    Well in Odumbasses eyes anyone that does not agree with him,or is not a domocrap, or stands up for their freedom and rights, or is a Christian,is a terrorist. Everyone needs to start talking terrorist talk saying all red flag key words like bomb and things like that if millions of people do they will have to drop it.

  • markopolo

    can I use this to cancel without early termination fee. . thanks.

  • droidrazredge

    Those that forget to learn from ones past are doomed to repeat the same mistakes in the future.

  • harryballs

    Brought to you from the same government that used the IRS to target specific groups. Feel better now?

  • Signalman

    Want most terrorist use straight talk or some other type burner phone.

  • Truthshallsetyoufree

    1963 was the last time we truly had a good leader running the government. This was the last
    attempt at obtaining a just and good government through JFK, this is
    the speech that got him killed:

    The very word “secrecy” is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and secret proceedings. We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweighed the dangers which are cited to justify it. Even today, there is little value in opposing the threat of a closed society by imitating its arbitrary restrictions. Even today, there is little value in insuring the survival of our nation if our traditions do not survive with it. And there is very grave danger that an announced need for increased security will be seized upon those anxious to expand its meaning to the very limits of official censorship and concealment. That I do not intend to permit to the extent that it is in my control. And no official of my Administration, whether his rank is high or low, civilian or military, should interpret my words here tonight as an excuse to censor the news, to stifle dissent, to cover up our mistakes or to withhold from the press and the public the facts they deserve to know.

    For we are opposed around the world by a monolithic and ruthless conspiracy that relies on covert means for expanding its sphere of influence–on infiltration instead of invasion, on subversion instead of elections, on intimidation instead of free choice, on guerrillas by night instead of armies by day. It is a system which has conscripted vast human and material resources into the building of a tightly knit, highly efficient machine that combines military, diplomatic, intelligence, economic, scientific and political operations.
    Its preparations are concealed, not published. Its mistakes are buried not headlined. Its dissenters are silenced, not praised. No expenditure is questioned, no rumor is printed, no secret is revealed.

    No President should fear public scrutinity of his program. For from that scrutiny comes understanding; and from that understanding comes support or opposition. And both are necessary. I am not asking your newspapers to support the Administration, but I am asking your help in the tremendous task of informing and alerting the American people. For I have complete confidence in the response and dedication of our citizens whenever they are fully informed.

    I not only could not stifle controversy among your readers– I welcome it. This Administration intends to be candid about its errors; for as a wise man once said: “An error does not become a mistake until you refuse to correct it.” We intend to accept full responsibility for our errors; and we expect you to point them out when we miss them.

    Without debate, without criticism, no Administration and no country can succeed– and no republic can survive. That is why the Athenian lawmaker Solon decreed it a crime for any citizen to shrink from controversy. And that is why our press was protected by the First (emphasized) Amendment– the only business in America specifically protected by the Constitution– not primarily to amuse and entertain, not to emphasize the trivial and sentimental, not to simply “give the public what it wants”–but to inform, to arouse, to reflect, to state our dangers and our opportunities, to indicate our crises and our choices, to lead, mold educate and sometimes even anger public opinion.

    And so it is to the printing press–to the recorder of mans deeds, the keeper of his conscience, the courier of his news– that we look for strength and assistance, confident that with your help man will be what he was born to be: free and independent.

    This means greater coverage and analysis of international news– for it is no longer far away and foreign but close at hand and local. It means greater attention to improved understanding of the news as well as improved transmission. And it means, finally, that government at all levels, must meet its obligation to provide you with the fullest possible information outside the narrowest limits of national security

  • sski66

    There’s 2 sides of this coin, sure it seems people don’t care if there not doing anything”evil”, on the other side there’s the more of our rights they take from us the more they feel they can take, u know, its a Slippery Slope.

  • JamesU513

    They may get me meta-data, but they won’t get me Lucky Charms

  • Ryan Verley

    Here’s what I think. I appreciate the efforts to protect us and all of the people in the U.S. And I can understand the need to not let everyone who’s being checked out know they’re being checked out DURING the investigation (can’t tip off the terrorist or it could likely expedite their plans). However, once the investigation is over on July 19th, and you cleared millions of people, let those people know that they were being monitored, when, where, and give the explicit reason why. /scandal averted

  • anezarati

    this has been going on for long before now, no matter what the administration is. thinking anything else is just naive.

  • JoshGroff

    So many conspiracy theorists out today, put away the tin foil hats and get some fresh air, maybe it’ll do you some good. If you don’t like it, cancel your phone service, and while you’re at it, your home internet and cable because they can track those as well. (Not to mention credit cards AND bank accounts) Crying about it isn’t going to change anything.

  • Ian

    Is this incident by itself worth freaking out over…probably not. The issue at hand is the big picture, demanding these private records is only a facet to the problems we are and are about to face.

    Those spouting “Go ahead! I have nothing to hide” or “Big deal!, who cares?” are ignorant. It has nothing to do with the fact of whether or not you are hiding anything and everything to do with the fact that this is not something our government should be doing.

  • I-Troll-U

    My guess is that it happens with all the carriers.. Do I agree that this is right? Not really… Do I care much? no I don’t. I rank this very low on my priority list when it comes to things to complain about.

  • JoshGroff

    I’m not surprised, nor do I care. I have no false sense of privacy when it comes to mobile technology.

    • Ian

      The government thanks you for not caring, they shall continue to whittle away your rights and privacy. Have a nice day!

      • JoshGroff

        I’m smart enough to use my phone as little as possible and keep no sensitive information on it, so why should I care if they can see my Google searches or the fact that I talked to my mom or ordered pizza?

  • edward

    news flash, this has been going on for years. it’s only because the guardian broke this news and made it public, that everyone is in a rage now. to think that the NSA ‘hasn’t’ been collecting metadata is ridiculous. the agency’s sole mission is to eavesdrop on domestic and international communication. in 2006, the NSA made a similar request from all carriers to surrender the same information. your communication is already monitored whether wireless, landline, emails and even person to person, it is being monitored. verizon, along with google and every other company that has participated in this won’t acknowledge their participation with the NSA. to do so with hinder with the Information Assurance mission of the NSA.

  • buckley101

    I don’t see what the big deal is. Who cares if the government see’s that I call my mom or friends. In the end the government is here for us, the people. If it’s to protect us and I have nothing to hide, I don’t care. People on the internet are always just looking for something to complain about

    • Ian

      What if they government changes its designation of a terrorist? …to “someone that calls their mom” and then you get labeled a terrorist, then what?

      People are so selfish. It doesn’t appear to directly affect me and so therefore I don’t care? What about when the gov’t violates a right that you frequently exercise but not many others do and so they take the same approach and shrug it off?

      • buckley101

        Because I have trust in the government that they’re not going to label someone a terrorist without reasonable cause. Our government isnt corrupt and if you think it is, you should look at other countries. While what they’re doing is corrupt, it’s to protect the people. Your second statement Is true and agree but no one but terrorists and should be worried in this case.

        • jhouk

          Wait, I’m confused… Our government isn’t corrupt, but what they’re doing is corrupt?

          That sounds like a quote from self-help guru Brad Goodman. “There’s no trick to it. It’s just a simple trick!”

  • Shaunwin

    This doesn’t bother me one bit… The government can check my phone records all they want.

  • dummy

    They WANT you to know this,
    to use ‘secret’ ia a joke. They
    cant even interpret the data they
    already possess. The greatest
    value this has is as a deterrent,
    in that case they call it secret, then
    make sure it gets leaked. Duh.

  • EvanTheGamer

    I have nothing to hide so I could give two sh*ts and a rats ass on monkey island.

    • whyteboyello

      and the more and more of an attitude you have like that the more and more they will invade your personal life.

      • EvanTheGamer

        I’m just saying that…I mean, it doesn’t really affect me too much. I use Facebook every day(personal and business use) so they can obtain my personal information(obviously not everything, only what I have on FB) if they really wanted to.

        It just makes no difference to me anymore. I use to care back in the day(about privacy), but now it’s like what’s the point.

        If you have nothing to hide you have nothing to hide. And it’s not like they’re giving away your information anyways, it’s the NSA.

        • Ian

          Its not just about you

    • JMonkeYJ

      the problem is that the government can use it to harass people that shouldn’t have anything to hide. for example, what if they use this surveillance to find who leaked this information to the guardian and imprison them? what if they start doing this to more and more whistleblowers? this is already happening. the government has stepped up prosecution of journalists, and information like this makes it even easier. it starts out by “only” affecting journalists, but that leads to an even more secretive government as there’s no one to report on it.

      to put it another way: why do you think it’s OK for you to be spied on because you have nothing to hide/are doing nothing wrong, but don’t think the government should have the same transparency? doesn’t that imply that they have something to hide and are doing something wrong?

  • DanWazz

    OH NO! They’ll know where and when I check hockey scores. The devious bastards!

    • Ian

      You’re a fool if you think that’s all they are after and they’ll stop at getting our phone records.

      • DanWazz

        We get it, you’re into personal privacy and limiting the government’s power. Geesh, sorry for making a joke. from the perspective that I don’t do anything worth hiding. Don’ t forget to opt out of Google’s location services.

  • Tyler Casilio

    Nationwide Martial Law by June 2014. I’m just warning you guys. Be ready

    • Corey Foltman

      I’m not sure it’ll be that soon…or perhaps i fear it’ll be sooner than that.

    • Tiredofthelies

      They can only enforce martial law if We the people allow them to enact martial law. Remember what this once great country was founded upon – Freedom from tyranny. It is the right of the people to remove the government from power, if the government no longer works for the common good of the people. I like to think of it as an employment analogy. The elected officials were elected by the people. If they do not do the job they were elected to do, it is no different than an employee being fired for not doing the job they were hired to do. Unfortunately, the sheer volume of sheeple in this country make that right almost impossible to enforce.

      • Corey Foltman

        I was about to make a point before i finished reading. than i got to the last line and erased what I had typed.

      • Justin

        Lol, like Corey, I started out disagreeing with you, but after reading the whole comment, I agree with you completely! Since when have We the People been able to change and enforce any aspect of our government? We are all getting trained to get used to being pushed around to the point where the government will soon be able to do whatever they want without us being able to do literally anything about it. This country is a scary place and it’s only going to get scarier unless We the People do something to prevent it.. And soon!

  • benhodges

    I really don’t care. I know there’s nothing in my personal business that is of any interest to the government. If they’re going through millions of records, they obviously aren’t doing it by hand – they have computers scanning them, looking for red flags. To me, it’s nothing like actual people coming into my house, rifling through my things.

    • Havoc70

      Not yet it isnt, but dont be surprised when it turns into just that

    • Corey Foltman

      i semi agree with you. obviously they are scanning for phone calls. hopefully for red flags of people calling known terrorist cells outside of the country…however, it’s one more step in a bad direction.

  • T4rd

    If you get upset over this, you should read about the Patriot Act…

    • Havoc70

      Absolutely, Everyone should read what that POS legislature says.

    • zaggs

      Problem is that this seems to go beyond what the Patriot Act says is allowed. If nothing else the section of the Patriot cited (50usc1861) is for business records. Plus that section basically says its supposed to be about certain people, not everyone on Verizon’s network.

      • jhouk

        That is true. Previously it focused on foreign (overseas) communications and known suspects. According to this… we are all suspects now.

      • Justtyn Hutcheson

        Ah the joys of intentional literary obfuscation in legal documents. You can make it mean whatever suits your cause if you try hard enough. Implicit intent is just as fluid 10 days after a law is passed as it is 200 years later.

  • Damu793

    Martial law!

    • Corey Foltman

      Not Yet…But it’s in our future.

  • CasperTFG
    • I-Troll-U

      Patriot Act Section 206

      Check it out ;)

      • CasperTFG

        Thanks for the reference.

        “Constitutionally, they are suspect, since they depart from the Fourth Amendment’s explicit requirement that all warrants must “particularly describ[e] the place to be searched.’”

        http://apps.americanbar.org/natsecurity/patriotdebates/section-206

        “This is an abuse of the Patriot Act on a massive scale,” said Gregory Nojeim, senior counsel at the Center for Democracy and Technology.

        I hold the Fourth Amendment higher than The Patriot Act. Are you saying Section 206 as modified in 2002 by the authorization act supersedes a subset of the Constitution? The Patriot Act is bad law, period. Citing it won’t assuage many citizen’s concerns about Government abuse.

        Whatever, I’m probably wrong, the USG never abuses its power.

        • I-Troll-U

          Look, I’m not saying it’s not a bad law… I’m just saying that the Patriot act allows for this.. Whether or not it’s against the Constitution would be for the Supreme Court to decide I would guess. Republicans put this forward and used it, now Democrats are being railed for using it. If the Republicans were caught doing this, the Democrats would be all over them about it. The Government abuses it’s power because We The People allow them to do so. ;)

  • ooja3k

    If you’re not doing anything wrong who cares about the info. I’m more upset at the principle of the government sticking their hand further and further into my business.

    • Corey Foltman

      Right, keep ignoring it and letting them take liberty after liberty away from you.

    • zaggs

      People care because in case you haven’t noticed lately what is considered “wrong” is in the eye of the beholder.

      • ooja3k

        True. Personally, I would consider something “wrong”, especially as related to this story, is something that could jeopardize our national security…

        • Ian

          “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” – B. Franklin

  • imns

    How is your phone number NOT an identifier?

  • William_Morris

    Big news… don’t forget, today is 64 years since the publishing of George Orwell’s 1984. Remember: Big Brother is watching YOU.

  • matt_helm

    Provide it on a printed copy???

  • BigWormBigPerm

    So…can the NSA at least update my phone in a timely manner?

  • enigmaco

    Verizon has no problem handing over information, I am sure there was no forcing involved.

    • Jared

      That’s my thought too. If Verizon had said “No,” what would the NSA have done? Threatened to shut down the network? Yeah, great idea. Piss of the customers of the nation’s largest network. All Verizon would have had to do is say, “We respect the privacy and 4th Amendment rights of our customers and refuse to allow you to spy on them.”

      • Justtyn Hutcheson

        The network would continue running, those who made the decision not to release the data would be jailed under a charge of impeding a federal investigation.

        • Jared

          That’s a good point, but I think it would be difficult to hide the reason of the Verizon High-Ups being jailed, which would have unleashed this $h!t storm earlier and given customers the sense that Verizon cares about their privacy, especially in the face of unjust (and unconstitutional) laws.

          • Justtyn Hutcheson

            Verizon is in business to make money, not protect anyone’s interest but their own. It is human nature to protect one’s personal interests above all others as well. Combine the two, and the fact that in the CEO’s case those overlap, and there’s not a single business person on earth who would have rejected that court order. If by some twist of fate they were jailed, impeding a federal investigation could mean anything from business-related to personal, and wouldn’t have regarded any further scrutiny without more information as was leaked last night.

          • Jared

            Alas!, You are correct. Thanks for the well thought out response. I would just hope that liberty would take precedence in these matters, but as the Patriot Act and much of the recent legislation (NDAA) show, Terrorrizzm!!! takes precedence over liberty. Sigh.

          • Justtyn Hutcheson

            Agreed. Terrorism, as I stated below, can be blamed for anything, is subjective, and its pursuit is ultimately futile. But, a person is easy to fool, and people in groups even more so. Ironically, democracy is the very antithesis of liberty, as it is essentially mob rule, and mobs are simple to control if you know what you are doing.

          • Jared

            Exactly why I’m grateful that our founders set up a Republic instead of a democracy. However, in this age, it doesn’t change the fact that rights are being trampled.

          • Justtyn Hutcheson

            Unfortunately, the Republic has been taken over more-or-less by career politicians, which was not the intent. So, instead of having 1 king or queen, we have 50, which really isn’t any better. I would posit though that the cases where a citizen’s rights are legitimately being “trampled” are fewer than those where they actually are. It seems like every time the government tries to do anything at all now someone is calling it a violation of somebody’s rights.