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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!

  • Fiorta
  • paul_cus

    Hope they aren’t doing this with AT&T, but it wouldn’t surprise me.

    • Corey Foltman

      It’s almost a given it’s with all carries, post and prepaid.

  • john fragoulias

    People need to realize, the Government is and will always be WATCHING YOU, if you like it or not, they where doing it before, now with the mobile evolution and digital age, they know all your daily movements, and there is NOTHING you can do about it, no one has fought and beat the government. And in today’s fragile world of terrorism and the sort, they have even more reason to keep an eye on you and me. As long as they keep me and everyone safe, I don’t really care, since I do not participate in any illegal activities. The constitution will and has to be changed for the betterment of our new industrialized society, I am sure our fore fathers who wrote the constitution had no idea how the world would change with our recent evolution in technology, and the lunatics that it would give birth to.

    • Havoc70

      I think our Forefathers knew exactly how to write the constitution because of the same oppression in Europe. As for our current situation with the govt we have now its all about control, nothing more nothing less. They sure as HE_LL arent doing this for our protection. Welcome to the USSR

      • John Fragoulias

        This is far from the USSR, since you never lived anywhere outside of the US, so you have no clue. You don’t know how good you have it here is the great USA, nothing like it. And like I said, big government will always be watching, especially now with all the madness going on all around us, and I don’t blame them. I don’t get people, when something bad happens people always scream, why didn’t government do anything about it, and when they do, the scream why are they intruding in our affairs. The WORLD has changed from the Jefferson and Lincoln days, accept it and move on.

        • Havoc70

          You have no idea where i have lived or haven’t and to make that statement shows your ignorance. We may not currently be the USSR but that is EXACTLY where this once great country is headed. Yes the world has changed since Jefferson and Lincoln, right back to where our forefathers were when they left oppressive Europe. Funny how history always comes back at you when you don’t learn a damn thing from it the first time.

    • MzA

      why are you willing to give up your freedom for a little bit of security?

      • John Fragoulias

        How are you giving up your freedom, and yes I like a bit more security, I am sure those innocent folks who died in Boston would have liked a bit more security, welcome to the real world. And who cares if they are checking phone records, I am sure it’s not everyone’s, but only the ones they deem suspicious, and I have no problem with that. No one is impeding on your freedom, you still have freedom of speech “only in America”, you still can go and do whatever you want, as long it is not criminal, most people in the USA have no clue what it’s like in the rest of the world, and the things we take for granted, like freedom of speech and the sort.

        • jhouk

          If you are willing to accept the government’s ability to bend your liberties as they see fit as long as they “promise” it is in your best interest, then what is to stop them from limiting the free speech you speak of to only free speech that they agree with. The ACLU has many cases on file to highlight this, not to mention the current IRS scandal that currently is unraveling. You don’t have to be angry about what is going on, but I would be wary of trying to belittle others for exercising their free speech rights to express their discontent.

        • Ian

          I present to the court, Exhibit A: “what is wrong with this country”

    • jhouk

      Two things compel me to respond to this post.
      #1 no one has fought and beat the government [there is NOTHING you can do about it]. —> I would suggest you Google the year 1776, click the Wikipedia link that pops up, and see if anything interesting happened that year. Also, do some research to understand why the 2nd Amendment exists (hint: It has nothing to do with deer or bears) and why so many American citizens vehemently defend the protection of it.
      #2 The constitution will and has to be changed for the betterment of our new industrialized society. —> The problems we face are not due to any lacking in the Constitution, but rather the lack of adherence to (or in some cases the complete disregard of) its principles. The framers new a day like this would come when the evils of human nature would look to usurp the liberties of the individual. That is why the Constitution exists as a framework to limit the power of government in your life.
      If you want to return to a monarchy or transform into a different form of government other than a representative republic, then your right to voice that wish is protected by the very document you decry above. I am glad you posted this. This kind of conditioned acceptance of the erosion of liberty needs to be openly debated and challenged. It’s sort of odd, though, that it takes an Android forum website to do so. Droid Life supports free speech :)

    • JMonkeYJ

      if you believe we are any less safe now due to “terrorism” than we were at any other point in the history of the US due to the circumstances at that time…well, you’re very wrong (and buying into a false story)

  • David Wanless
    • Havoc70

      I see what yo did there =)

    • Adam Collins

      They have one pleased customer

  • Eric

    Tbh I couldn’t care less it’s not like I’m doing something I shouldn’t be.

  • Kenny Larson

    Who knew the Verizon guy was talking to the NSA when he said ‘Can you hear me now?’

    • Col_Angus

      And when he said “good”, it meant they won’t have to abduct and murder his family now.

  • Weber

    Don’t most of these guys use “burner” phones, anyway?

    • Corey Foltman

      prepaid phones (burner phones) have gps too. so they can see where a phone number was when they called another number. big brother sees all.

      • Col_Angus

        They can turn a phone’s speakerphone on without you knowing it. I had a friend in college that interned with the NSA one summer. The stuff they can do is scary. Frankly, I have nothing to hide, but it’s disturbing nonetheless. If you’re going to do something shady, pull your battery (unless you have one of THOSE phones).

        • Corey Foltman

          but even with nothing to hide. i dont want them turning on the speakerphone or the camera and watching/listening to what im doing

          • Col_Angus

            I know, when you start sacrificing anything without a fight, it opens the door for more being taken away, and once something’s gone, it’s nearly impossible to get back.

          • Corey Foltman

            its completely impossible to get back. but the fight is a hard fight. especially when so many people are blind to whats actually happening.

      • Corey Foltman

        and most of these guys that are using their phones for illegal activities does not give the government the right to pry into everyones lives.

      • Weber

        They’d have to still have the phone in their possession, though, for it to make any difference, right?

        • Corey Foltman

          with all the cities having cameras all over the place, it may not make a difference. if they see where he phone was at a certain time, they may have the ability to get a picture of your face.

  • guest12345

    There is an unclassified version of USSID 18 (USSID 1800) online. If you are truly concerned or think your rights are being infringed upon, read that. It governs NSA in reg yard to US Persons.

  • ddevito

    NSA to Verizon: “All your user base are belong to us”

  • jnt

    Surely Verizon isn’t the only carrier that’s done this…

    • Corey Foltman

      most likely its all of them…and prepaid phones (burner phones) have gps too. so they can see where a phone number was when they called another number. big brother sees all.

      • jnt

        I never watched the show 24 until about 6 months ago (blew through all 8 seasons on Netflix). I have to say, that can’t be too far from reality nowadays…

        • Corey Foltman

          shows like 24, person of interest… chance they are based on some sort of truth of old technology? perhaps. they idea came from somewhere

  • Nick Sarafolean

    I’m pretty sure that this violates our fourth amendment rights. Or at least comes dangerously close to violating them.

  • zaggs

    Oh even better. This was just a renewal, its been going on for awhile!!

  • MichaelFranz

    If its used for good, im not worried, im not a terrorist or conspirator. If this bothers people write a letter to your president….Murica!

    • zaggs

      Yes, just as the IRS used extra inquiries for good and the DoJ names a reporter as a conspirator….you know….for the “good” of it.

  • Buzz

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    -Fourth Amendment, United States Constitution

    To all the folks who are all “meh” or “don’t care, nothing to hide”: you are a frog in a pot of water.

    • Justtyn Hutcheson

      So long as probable cause is presented that the data is necessary in the prevention or investigation of a crime, the provisions of the 4th amendment have been satisfied. If a court order was issued, then a judge determined that the data was indeed critical to the investigation, and Verizon is complying with the court order as they are obligated to do. There is no rights violation here. Privacy concerns of course, but no rights violation.

      • zaggs

        Um, yeah, no way in hell getting even 20% of Verizon’s customers calls would be covered by the 4th amendment. Unless of course only terrorist use Verizon.

        • David Wanless

          i dunno, the “can you hear me now” guy looks pretty shady

      • Ibrick

        Do you understand the concept of ‘probable cause’?

        • Justtyn Hutcheson

          Apparent facts discovered through logical inquiry that would lead a reasonably intelligent and prudent person to believe that an accused person has committed a crime, thereby warranting his or her prosecution, or that a Cause of Action has accrued, justifying a civil lawsuit.

          http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/probable+cause

          Probable cause is merely a logical and apparent connection that would be further substantiated, verified, or disproved by the obtainment of some sub-set of additional relevant data which is not initially acceptable or is otherwise legally withheld.

          I readily admit that the hill in this case would hopefully be exceptionally steep, but nothing is impossible.

          • Ibrick

            So by your own definition, the very act of placing a phone call is ‘probable cause’ for potential criminal activity?

          • Justtyn Hutcheson

            No, the act of placing a phone call is the act of placing a phone call. I have no idea how the FBI proved probable cause, but the fact is they did so to the satisfaction of the law, otherwise they would not have obtained the court order. The fact is, the court order is completely legal and constitutional.

          • Ibrick

            I understand what you’re saying, and yes, a court did allow this to fall under ‘probable cause’, which makes it technically legal.

            My point is, it’s clear there is no probable cause to grant the NSA and FBI access to this information, and common sense should make that pretty clear.

          • Justtyn Hutcheson

            Your point is being made based on the information made available to you, which is nothing. There clearly was probable cause to grant the court order, and “common sense” does not make it otherwise. Reason tells us that a case was presented to a judge, the judge ruled that the case was just under the law, and the order was complied with by Verizon. I am not arguing anything other than the legality of the court order, and that Verizon was right to comply with it. The moral issue is purely a personal judgement, and that is a different, though obviously related, discussion.

          • John E. Jablonski

            Actually, no. They did so to the satisfaction of one judge.

            Given that the Obama/Holder had to shop around for a judge to approve a warrant against James Rosen, it is entirely possible the same thing happened here.

            And since the “War on Terror” is over, what are they looking for? This is wide, overreaching data collection against American citizens.

          • Justtyn Hutcheson

            The satisfaction of one judge was all that was required by law, so again, perfectly legal. I’m not arguing morals, just facts.

            And to my knowledge, the “War on Terror” has never been “officially” ended (the fact that it was technically never officially begun either should be noted as well, since declaring war is a power that is exclusively granted to Congress, which hasn’t declared war on anyone since WW2, though the “Conflict Regarding Terroist Groups Allegedly Targeting the United States and their Allies” just doesn’t pop in the media, or sound as scary). The conflicts in Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan, among others, have been scaled back, but nothing has been ended.

          • cb2000a

            No the fact is that you are losing your constitutional rights. If you don’t fight for them now they won’t exist in the future.

      • WickedToby741

        How exactly is it justified that the government can track EACH AND EVERY foreign call made from or to a Verizon customer (and don’t kid yourself, the other large carriers are probably under similar orders)? I don’t care if a judge decided it was critical, this is not freedom and this is not justice. That’s like saying you can obtain a search warrant to search everyone’s house until you find evidence because you don’t have suspects.

        • Austin Mutschler

          Minus the search warrant and not telling the homeowner.

        • Justtyn Hutcheson

          They were given a specific subset of data, none of which is individually personally identifiable. If the NSA has obtained personally identifiable information from another source (such as public records), they can indeed combine all of that information in a logical fashion to identify individuals, an act otherwise known as investigation. However, given the sheer quantity of the data, it would be impossible to accurately identify each and every person in a reasonable or relevant amount of time without Verizon’s personal data records (the obtainment of which was specifically disallowed by the court order). Therefore, by granting access to EVERY record, personal privacy is assured through the sheer volume of the information.

          As for why all calls, the only one who knows all of the arguments presented are the judge and those arguing for or against, and all of those records are sealed.

          • cb2000a

            All overseas calls are monitored. Whether by land line or cell. In fact every email you send and just about every phone call is monitored…welcome to 1984.

        • Justtyn Hutcheson

          1.) The order specified a list of every foreign, domestic, and local call that utilizes Verizon’s network be provided. That is significantly more data than just foreign calls, which incidentally have been tracked since 1978 (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act). The data provided is a subset of Verizon’s business records, and were likely obtained under the provisions of the Patriot Act of 2001.

          2.) Whether you care about a judge’s opinion is immaterial, you must live with the consequences anyway. That is part of the social contract you implicitly agree to as a United States citizen, that you will abide by the laws and judgements decided upon by national, state, and local legislators and adjudicators. If you don’t like it, exercise what power you do have and contact your district’s Representatives and Senators, and participate in petitions and other lawful non-violent forms of protest. If you don’t want to do that, you are of course free to leave the country and try to find a better system elsewhere.

          3.) Your comparison, one I have seen several times, is unreasonable. None of the data obtained on its own can be used to positively identify anyone. While I am certain many people can be identified (and, indeed, tracked) by combining that data with other data sets that are independently obtained (either through court order or, more likely, through public records), there is simply no direct comparison to another situation. The idea that a set of data with absolutely no personal identifications is the same as widespread search and seizure on personal property is completely illogical.

      • Brian Sargent

        I have to disagree. Even with a court ordered search warrant the person is notified when the warrant is being executed. Probable cause is specific. Not a broad ranging sweep of information. I might have probable cause that drugs are being sold in a neighborhood. The judge cannot and will not sign a warrant enabling me to search every home in the neighborhood. The scope is too broad. If I had probable cause for a specific house, then that home is issued a search warrant based on the evidence that gave the PC. As an ex-investigator, I could not just willy nilly go search people’s houses in a neighborhood even if I knew that one or more homes had dope coming out of it. I had to know which ones and my warrant would include only those. The government is stepping way out of bounds on this one and I am not sold for one second that it has anything at all to do with terrorism. It is an illegal seizure of our information based on nothing at all. It is a violation of the fourth.

        • Justtyn Hutcheson

          The court order was very specific, as always. The volume of the data gathered is enormous (there are very likely billions of entries), but the scope of that data is narrow, as one would expect. No single piece or even a subset of the data solicited can be used to identify a single person on its own. The information is part of the business records of a single entity (Verizon Wireless USA), which can be obtained under the provisions of the Patriot Act of 2001. The non-personal data belongs to Verizon, not the individual, per Verizon’s Privacy Policy, which each user must agree to in order to obtain service. So, as it stands, it is impossible for the issuance of the court order to be illegal or a violation of anyone’s constitutional rights.

          Your belief that “The government is stepping way out of bounds on this one and I am not sold for one second that it has anything at all to do with terrorism” is completely irrelevant to the legality or constitutionality of the court order or Verizon’s compliance.

          • Brian Sargent

            Sure my opinion has nothing to do with the legality of it….but I can state it none the less. The Patriot Act itself is an attack of our civil liberties that is masquerading as something that protects us from terrorists.

          • Justtyn Hutcheson

            Oh, absolutely sir. I apologize if my intent was not completely apparent. I was merely pointing out that the last few sentences of your post: ” It is an illegal seizure of our information based on nothing at all. It is a violation of the fourth.” were quantifiably erroneous. Certainly no offense was intended.

            On a personal note, I agree that the Patriot Act is a shining example of terrible, knee-jerk law making without thinking of the overarching consequences (or soothing one’s conscience with the equally deplorable “ends justify the means” argument).

          • Aaron

            This statement deserves more upvotes.

          • michael arazan

            The Patriot Act of 2001 expired all ready, and congress shot down to renew it. Allegedly a newer version was made that didn’t infringe so vaguely on people’s rights.

      • Guest

        Hutch,
        There can be no probable cause to turn over 98 million peoples data…10 or 20, maybe. The judge was in error and violated 98 million peoples 4th amendment rights.

      • LiterofCola

        Exactly.

    • Austin Mutschler

      Well its the same thing as the government forwarding a copy of everyones mail and looking at who its from, and how long it is. Of course the government wouldn’t touch your mail but email and phone records are apparently free game.

    • freedom1

      The Second will be the first to go… Then the fourth. Its sad

      • Rick Anderson

        FOR THE PEOPLE BY THE PEOPLE OF THE PEOPLE…
        tyranny knows no bounds

      • michael arazan

        Obama has never done anything to impede on the 2nd amendment, if anything he has allowed more freedoms to it. Especially by allowing more states than ever to have conceal and carry, instead of federally outlawing it.

        The only action Obama has done towards guns is to regulate the international export and import of weapons.

    • Rick Anderson

      this is what happens when we don’t stay informed

  • bananatroll

    and this is why I use TOR

  • Tony Byatt

    I left Verizon in March, but I was probably too late…Big Brother got my ass…

  • http://www.youtube.com/lanech Lane Chaplin

    Darn you, Bush!

  • jnt

    Not trying to diminish the seriousness of this at all, but isn’t it only for Verizon Wireless business customers?

    • jnt

      Well nevermind – I must’ve misinterpreted this from the NY Times:

      “The Obama administration is secretly carrying out a domestic surveillance program under which it is collecting business communications records involving Americans under a hotly debated section of the Patriot Act, according to a highly classified court order disclosed on Wednesday night.”

  • violator702

    The man who would choose security over freedom deserves neither.

    • Justtyn Hutcheson

      *the illusion of security

      Choosing true security over freedom is a fair and necessary trade in most cases, and is a rather difficult balance to strike.

  • Corey Foltman

    I love how big brother says “Terrorist” to try to scare people into thinking that it makes it ok…

    • EC8CH

      “The object of terrorism is terrorism. The object of oppression is oppression. The object of torture is torture. The object of murder is murder. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?”

      • Corey Foltman

        George Orwell 1984. Nice

        • Justtyn Hutcheson

          An incredibly astute piece of literature, all things considered. As were Animal Farm, Brave New World, and Handmaid’s Tale. Oh dystopic fiction, how I love you and your many varied yet ultimately similar ideals: man’s lust for power and being “right” will ensure their ultimate destruction.

  • Michael Lierman

    In the terms and conditions you signed up for, you stated that you agree to Verizons privacy policy, and that policy states that they will cooperate with police, local authorities, and government officials in investigations. So no, you agreed this was okay when you signed up.

    • SkullOne

      So where’s the valid legal process with this then? I see no court order, subpoena, or warrant. Do you?

      • Michael Lierman
        • SkullOne

          Oh I know about that “court order”. We just know nothing about the “secret court” it came out of.

          Sorry, I’m still not buying it. What the NSA is doing is completely unacceptable and Verizon going along with it is even worse and anybody unhappy about this 4th amendment violation deserves to be let out of their contract.

    • trumpet444

      We may have agreed with Verizon under the circumstances you pointed out, but the issue is that the “government officials” that Verizon are ‘cooperating’ with are more than likely making unnecessary requests

  • Fiorta

    1. Every carrier is doing this I’m sure
    2. Anti-government can now easily be terrorist (see Boston bombing)
    3. Where does it stop? Shall every home in America have their door kicked in because “Hey somewhere there is someone in a home doing something bad”

    • Fiorta

      Also, I’d would have much rather this been the NSA doing it illegally and in secret. No instead a judge actually said “sure, go ahead”. MURICA!

      • EC8CH

        exactly… how does a judge not say:

        “everyone… you mean EVERYONE??? GTFO!”

    • Mike

      Look at the BS you’re forced to go through in an airport because 1 dipshit tried to sneak on a shoe bomb. If it’s one thing we do well here in the US it’s over-react.

      • LionStone

        Yep, then the multi million dollar scanner you walk through can’t tell there’s anything in your shoe?…lame. At least now you can get “TSA Pre Checked”, so at select TSA checkpoints, you can keep your shoes on, belt, jacket… and you can sign up for CLEAR, to be pre-checked as well but that one costs $.

    • Justtyn Hutcheson

      How is the Boston bombing NOT a terrorist act? EVERY terrorist act is committed by persons who are unhappy with the ideals of those targeted or to make a violent and impossible-to-ignore statement about their beliefs. Anti-government, anti-semite, anti-racial, its all terrorism. Hence, the “war on terror” is a war on human nature, and hence is ultimately infinite and whose only logical conclusion is the destruction of all but a single person, who by definition is “right”, as there is no longer anyone to argue otherwise.

      • Fiorta

        And stupid DISQUS killed my long reply… ugh… not typing it back out :(

        • Justtyn Hutcheson

          I’m sorry to hear that. Well, if you ever feel like the effort is worthwhile, I’d love to continue the discussion.

          Cheers.

          • Fiorta

            Meh.. it was basically:

            What defines terrorism? Bombs? Amount of people killed? Public place?

            And my anti-government is terrorism (see Boston bombing) comment boiled down to all the reports that said the brothers were 9/11 truthers and were against this very stuff that is now coming out. So if you are merely against our government being criminals does that now make you a terrorist?

          • Justtyn Hutcheson

            You not agreeing with or being against the government’s actions is not terrorism. That line is crossed when you bring indiscriminate harm to innocent people (of any citizenship, affiliation, etc.). It is the action that defines terrorism, not the motivation behind it. Focused violence is at times necessary, as some people will not respond to anything less; but indiscriminate violence is NEVER the right answer, and usually harms your position by turning away those who might have agreed with your beliefs, or been willing to at least listen.

  • James_75

    When they do it by force you (nor anyone) gets to make that “call”. That one may have nothing to hide is not the reason crap like this freaks people out, and rightfully so.

  • Mike

    If you want your ETF waived, and you get crappy signal inside, you just need to call in and say you aren’t getting reception where you live/work. They will ‘dispatch’ an engineer and within a few days they will tell you that you need to buy a network extender, but they also will allow you to exit the contract without fees.

    • gorillabiscuits

      Only if it comes back deemed Marginal Coverage area. Verizon doesn’t guarantee coverage inside structures

      • Mike

        They did for me, I get coverage outside (OK, not great) inside no good. They said as long as the engineer states it isn’t good inside that they take $100 off an extender or you can get out of your contract.

  • tech247

    Not really surprised by this. Have anyways had a feeling that they all ship this type of data in bulk to the government under some patriot act clause.

  • EC8CH

    Seriously… I would have thought Verizon would have put up more of a fight to protect it’s customer’s interests and privacy?

    • Syndicate

      Yeah. Verizon’s always done things in the interest of their customers! LOL

  • Michael Lierman

    Don’t you think that now the court order has gone public, anyone involved in terrorist activities would drop their plans with Verizon in favor of another carrier? Better yet, I think a lot of criminals use disposable pre-paid phones that don’t require your name and address (you can buy them at Walmart).

    • zaggs

      Actually they stopped using the burner phones once it leaked that the Bush admin could track them via burner phones.

      • Michael Lierman

        A few years ago, I sold a laptop to a customer and he paid me $400 in counterfeit 20’s. Good quality counterfeit. The bank teller didn’t even notice and neither did I. The next day, the bank informed me of the situation and the Secret Service and the local police showed up at my office to get more information. They were never able to catch the guy because they said he was using a disposable cell phone and they were unable to trace it. Not discounting what you are saying, perhaps this tracing power is only available to higher up officials, but I would think catching a counterfeiter that is producing thousands of dollars of fake money, would be a priority.

        • jnt

          Jason Bourne used prepaids… just sayin’

          • El_Big_CHRIS

            my fav trilogy

  • Mr E

    I don’t like it, but at least they’ll just see how many times I call my mom. Just stay away from those data records :)

  • jhouk

    Big Brother + Big Red = doubleplusungood for you

  • BRIM

    This is not for the wireless department.
    Relax.

  • Chad Walber

    I see some people talking about how this is completely fine. To those people, I ask if they would be willing to have the government come into their houses every week, turn them over looking for terrorist paraphernalia, then leave the mess for you to clean up only for them to come back and turn over the house the next week.
    Now, change the word “terrorist” into “anti-government” which is only a short step away from “unhappy with the government”.
    We have a RIGHT to privacy by our 4th amendment here in the US. This means that the government CANNOT perform any unreasonable searches or seizures.
    Now, in the event that our government does something we disagree with, and we become unhappy with them, and voice that unhappiness, the government sees it as “reasonable” to look into our every day lives.
    Do I do illegal things on a regular basis, No. Do I think it’s ohk for anyone to be looking that closely at my business, including the government, ABSOLUTELY NOT.

    • Corey Foltman

      some people are dumb/scared enough by the word terrorism, they will give up all of their rights for their “safety”… trying to take away our firearms, secretly(and not so secretly) looking into our personal lives…anyone else seeing where this is headed?

      • Havoc70

        I can tell you where its heading, can you say USSR.

      • trumpet444

        Tyranny

    • Justtyn Hutcheson

      The 4th amendment requires probable cause be presented that the search or seizure of personal property (and, by extension, personally identifiable data) is necessary to the prevention or investigation of a crime. In the case, the judge determined that probable cause was presented, and issued the court order accordingly.

      THERE IS NO RIGHTS VIOLATION HERE. The legal process was followed, and Verizon complied as they any US business or citizen is obligated to do. Whether this is an abuse of power is a separate discussion entirely, but it is absolutely 100% legal.

      • Chad Walber

        That’s an interesting point, however they can only look at a specific person’s information to prevent that specific person from committing a crime. The law does not provide leverage to look at perspective victims’ information. The possible victim can be approached and asked for said permission for their own good, but it must be volunteered.
        That being said, this means that every Verizon customer must be suspect of or have committed some crime in order for their data to be released. I challenge that there is probable cause to look at every single person’s phone records.

        • Justtyn Hutcheson

          Or, they are proposed as victims of the crime (anyone can be the victim of a terrorist act), and Verizon acted as our agent to grant permission to look at their information due to the provisions of their privacy policy.

          Also recall, that data is not personally identifiable on its own, and as such is not technically subject to 4th amendment protection.

      • Ibrick

        ‘The legal process was manipulated’
        Fixed that for ya..

        • Justtyn Hutcheson

          I am not arguing for or against the specific actions taken, merely pointing out that the statement that the data being supplied by Verizon is a violation of the 4th amendment is incorrect.

      • Guest

        Hutch,
        How can anyone make a case that there is probable cause to turn over 98 million peoples records? 10 or 20, maybe. The abuse of power can not be seperated from this issue, it is the issue. The judge was in error and has violated 98 million peoples 4th amendment rights.

        • Justtyn Hutcheson

          How the case was made would be interesting to read, but honestly, at this point it is pretty much immaterial. The genie has been let out of the bottle, as the saying goes. Now, it is very possible that later on down the road, another judge might overturn the ruling, and the information (and the time and resources used to investigate its usefulness to the case) would be rendered completely null and void. However, I wasn’t talking hypotheticals, I was talking facts and reasoned deductions based on those facts and a basic understanding of the law.

          Fact: A court order to obtain a specific subset of non-personal business data from Verizon Wireless USA was issued and complied with.

          Deduction: In order to obtain the court order, a judge reviewed the case, the arguments for and against, weighed that against his knowledge of precedent and his interpretations of the applicable laws, and ruled that the information was not only necessary to the investigation, but also did not violate any individual’s rights in the process, and would therefore be admissible in court should charges based on that data collection arise.

          • Turner

            The fact that the data is not personally identifiable on it’s own just makes this make less sense. They can see my phone number and who i called but that is somehow not personally identifiable? In a lot of cases a ten minute search of the internet with only a phone number as a starting point is more than enough. I can’t believe that the government couldn’t easily cross reference this information with information from the DMV, the BCI, or the countless other government entities that we are required to give every personally identifiable bit of information about ourselves and not come away with a hell of a lot of personally identifiable information.

          • Justtyn Hutcheson

            Of course it can be cross-referenced, that is why it is valuable and useful. But the fact that the data by itself is cannot be used to identify anyone is what makes it legal to obtain, because at that point it is not private data, but business records. For the court order, the data must be considered in a vacuum, not in aggregate, otherwise there would be no such thing as a lawful search of non-personal data of any kind, which would severely limit any legitimate investigation.

            Whoever argued simply took the logical step that by obtaining all the data instead of just a very very narrow slice as has been done previously they could better and more accurately identify those who wish to cause harm and those who are simply calling home to speak with loved ones via call patterns. More accurate identification leads to fewer false positives, which is a net gain for privacy if you really get down into it, though that is purely speculative of course.

            Whether any of this data collection is “right” or “wrong” is absolutely up for debate. That it is lawful is an absolute truth. Those who confuse the two will cloud their judgement which leads to skewed and often times incorrect conclusions.

    • Keith Hollis

      “We have a RIGHT to privacy by our 4th amendment here in the US”

      Just a small thing that bugs me. We have a right to privacy because we are free people. The Bill of rights doesn’t give us those rights, It’s just a list of basic rights that the gov’t can’t take away.

      • Chad Walber

        RTFA

        That’s what they are doing.

        • Keith Hollis

          no kidding, i wasn’t talking about the article. Just saying that the gov’t doesn’t give us rights. We have rights because we are human, and the proper role of government is to protect those rights.

  • debonu

    Welcome to the realities of the Patriot Act… Seriously is anyone truly surprised? This same thing has been going on since the Patriot Act was signed back in 2001!

    • trumpet444

      Thank you for pointing that out. What also aggravates me is that a lot of the people that bitched and moaned (& rightfully so) about some of the actions of the Bush Administration under the guise of the Patriot Act are going to fall all over themselves apologizing and making excuses for the Obama Admin when it’s the exact same bull crap.

      It’s also pretty ironic that all the anti-war protests magically disappeared in the fall of ’08 when our military is actually now involved in more crap overseas than we were 5 years ago.

      • Lee McLaurin

        Not really. I’m a consistent liberal who’s been bitching and moaning since 2001 and thereafter. Wrong is wrong no matter what the administration. My liberal friends are in just as much uproar as anyone else. The Benghazi nonsense is a non-scandal, but our constant intervention in other countries, support of the military industrial complex, drones strikes on Americans, etc. is wrong under Bush or Obama.

        • Aaron

          I’m not one of those guys looking to start a political debate on nonpolitical sites, but calling Benghazi nonsense is disgraceful. Americans died in a planned, coordinated terrorist attack on 9/11, and the facts of the matter were covered up and replaced with fiction all for the benefit of pre-election campaigning. And that doesn’t even address the failure to provide adequate security for those same Americans after they requested it. Benghazi may not amount to any criminal charges, but it most certainly isn’t nonsense.

  • Anon

    “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.”

    There could easily be a difference between what they claim is happening, and what is, and due to FISA and the Patriot Act, we’d never be the wiser.

    It’s also one short step from gathering no identifiers to asking for those too. I have zero faith in our government’s ability to respect its citizen’s privacy; they have already demonstrated complete apathy towards that over the past decade.

    Overturn the Patriot Act, get rid of FISA and make things more transparent, and require warrants for everything. Then I’ll think about it.

  • Jeff C

    We are no longer on approach…we have arrived.

    TBOTFG

  • ddh819

    i remember hearing about this a couple years ago, wasn’t this known already?

  • zaggs

    DON’T PANIC!!! The DoJ is on this and is totally investigating. Investigating who leaked the information, not the wiretapping.

    • Fiorta

      haha +1

    • KleenDroid

      Obama has made a statement that he was not aware of this and he will put the full weight of his administration behind trying to get any information on the matter.

      He will get to this as soon as he gets some information on Bengazi.

      • EvanTheGamer

        You forgot the /s at the end.

        lol

      • Turner

        It blows me away that people are so meh about this! No matter what anyone thinks, the “Bengazi thing” is an issue if simply for the fact that the government lied for almost two weeks and then said oops, and the Secretary of Defense said “what difference does it make why Americans were killed.” The IRS issue is real, people have resigned and admitted wrongdoing only to be promoted to the overseer of Obamacare. The IRS targeting anyone based on beliefs of any kind is wrong on so many levels. And no one seems to care that Obama, the leader of the “free world” is saying time and again that “he was not aware of this…”. I get that he can’t know everything that is going on with every branch of government but he’s been caught in more than a few blatant lies in past months, and all the majority of the liberal, democratic, whatever way you would like to describe them think there is no problem with this when they couldn’t scream enough about similar but much less broad decisions were made by the Bush administration.

  • BTLS

    “a critical tool in protecting the nation from terrorist threats to the United States,”

    This a heaping pile of BULLSHIZ!

  • zaggs

    “nor does it contain personal information of Verizon’s subscribers or any other cell number”

    Um, you may want to read the order. It very much gives personal details and numbers.

    • Fiorta

      Yea. The order says it shows what number called what number and from where.

      • Justtyn Hutcheson

        The “personal data” mentioned is the link between the number and who is using it (name, address, etc.). Until that is provided, a number is just a number.

  • duoexo

    So they’re going to know how I am when I sext with my wife? Don’t say I didn’t warn you. ;)

  • KleenDroid

    The more people don’t mind things like this the more things like this that you won’t mind.

    • flyinggerbil

      far out.

      • Jurrah

        Your flippant & apathetic response to this is really troubling. And, to clarify, while I appear to be singling you out, I fully recognize that there are wide swaths of the population who are just as apathetic on this very subject, esp. the younger Millenial demographic.

        This thread is going to get toxic in a hurry, so, I would just make a simple request of you: please consider the ramifications of this revelation, and the established fact that once .gov gains X, it pushes for Y, and then Z; and X is never handed back.

  • Salvationalizm

    So do we take the white and blue off the flag now, or…

  • zaggs

    It was my understanding there are identifiers. I mean its your phone number if nothing else. That identifies your. Along with your GPS position. Also according to the Guardian “Unique identifiers” are included (MAC address?).

  • George Fayad

    I don’t understand how it can be a “critical” tool and yet contain no identifiers…

    • http://randomphantasmagoria.com/ Shawn

      Precisely. You’d think that would be a no brainer, wouldn’t you? Washington takes us all as fools.

    • Blue Sun

      “It specifies that the records to be produced include “session identifying information”, such as “originating and terminating number”, the duration of each call, telephone calling card numbers, trunk identifiers, International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) number, and “comprehensive communication routing information” I’m certain some of that info containers identifiers.

      • Justtyn Hutcheson

        When combined with independent data, absolutely, and that is the idea behind obtaining it in the first place. On its own, however, the best they could get is a GPS location, which may or may not be of any use at any given time.

  • John

    If getting a daily report from Verizon of just our metadata is so benign as the NSA & advocates of this invasion of privacy are suggesting, then why even do it? The NSA MUST be connecting names with numbers & who people are talking to somehow otherwise what is the point of collecting everyone’s phone records to prevent terrorism?

    • http://randomphantasmagoria.com/ Shawn

      Well, said, sir.

    • NexusPhan69

      My thinking was they will analyze the phone call data and then seek out a warrant if they find suspicious patterns to obtain the personal information and initiate a wire tap from there. At least that’s what I would do. Not that I’m NSA or anything…

      • Ibrick

        The issue there is what would be used to constitute ‘suspicious patterns’?

        Gonna go ahead and guess just about anything they want…

        • NexusPhan69

          Oh I completely agree. Just wishful thinking that it won’t overreach (further) guess.

    • Chris Dooley

      In the words of Thomas Jefferson a man who will sacrifice liberty for the illusion of security deserves neither.

      • Rolando

        * Benjamin Franklin. Appropriate use of the quote though.

      • trumpet444

        This country desperately needs another Thomas Jefferson

    • Blue Sun

      Metadata includes, phone # of dialer, phone # of recipient, Phone ID (think MAC address for PC’s), call duration, and possibly location where call was made.

  • jestersdead

    yeah because this data helped capture the boston bombers… its called lazy incompetent government that can now listen in to all your conversations… 1984 . we’re here

  • D4niel

    Your headline is wrong. Verizon is being force by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (at the request of the FBI) to give the data to the NSA. Read the first page of the court order that you linked to.

    • James_75

      Great point! VZW is just as much of a victim of this action as those whose records were required to be handed over.

      • D4niel

        I don’t know that I would go as far as calling them victims. As far as I’m concerned, companies that get such requests have a duty to stand up for what’s right and resist such obvious government overreaches loudly and publicly. Just hold up Amendment 4 and say, “No.”

        • James_75

          Anytime force is involved there is a victim to that force. Verizon can’t just say no or men with guns show up and take it anyway. But yes, I agree, they should go full bore “Hell No!” on that government ass if for no other reason than to let their customers know that they are trying to stand up for their privacy.

          • D4niel

            “Anytime an initiation of force is involved there is a victim to that force.”

            Yes, I suppose I would agree with that point.

            “Verizon can’t just say no or men with guns show up and take it anyway.”

            You’re probably right, but that’s better than just handing it over. Make it public. Let photos of those raids go out on the newswires. Make sure people know what’s going on. Much better than just saying, “Well, OK,” and rolling over.

            “But yes, I agree, they should go full bore “Hell No!” on that government ass if for no other reason than to let their customers know that they are trying to stand up for their privacy.”

            Exactly.

    • Sean Rowe

      How is the headline wrong? It simply says they are being forced to hand the data over the the NSA, it says nothing about who is forcing them…

      • D4niel

        The original headline was, “NSA Forcing Verizon to Hand Over Millions of Phone Records”. That was incorrect.

  • Keith0606

    Nothing to hide either, but this is part of the slippery slope that is the goverment slowly getting into every aspect of everyone’s lives. Personally not a fan of that.

    • flyinggerbil

      you’re right but, in this instance, i couldn’t care less.

      now, if they were to start listening in to all my calls, well, that’s a whole different issue.

      • mary

        How do you know they haven’t been already? This report was suppose to have been secret & never released to the public.

        • flyinggerbil

          i’m sure they have but ignorance is bliss.

          • James_75

            What? I thought that once that happens it’s a “whole different issue” I thought you had nothing to hide so why should you “care”?

  • http://randomphantasmagoria.com/ Shawn

    Even Helen Keller could have seen this coming. You give Uncle Sam an inch, they always take two miles. Nothing in the world is more permanent than temporary government authority. In the 21st century, everybody is suspect, everybody is guilty and this kind of garbage just proves it.

    ‘Murica. F**K YEAH! Pass me my freedom fries.

    • schoat333

      I didn’t see everybody getting accused of anything? Where is this happening?

      • http://randomphantasmagoria.com/ Shawn

        OK first off, do you seriously believe that the government has no way of personally identifying owners of the data that was shared? It’s just the precedent that has been set the last 20 years that government can poke its nose anywhere it wants for any reason it wants and there’s not a thing you can do about it.

        Stories like this simply make me sick.

        • Justtyn Hutcheson

          With this data in a vacuum? I absolutely believe that it would be highly improbable that any individual could be positively identified. However, combined with public records, publicly-accessible information, and alternative information sources, along with enough time and resources to sort it all out, most if not all the individuals could be identified. Would it be worth the effort to do so? Also highly improbable.

    • James_75

      What did Helen Keller do when she fell down the well?

      She screamed her hands off! D’oh!

  • schoat333

    Agreed. I have nothing to hide and couldn’t care less.

    • Sammy A

      “May your
      chains rest lightly upon you…”

  • schoat333

    Why? Verizon didn’t breach anything. Not to mention where are you going to go. I guarantee every carrier has to do the same thing.

    • Joshu

      I’d just like to get out of Verizon sooner rather than later, so I’m curious too. I’ve got another 7 months before my contract is up.

    • SkullOne

      Actually according their Privacy Policy they did breach the contract to my understanding. They state that for Verizon Wireless customers they will not publish your phone number in a directory. Well what is this info sent to NSA then? It’s a directory of phone numbers.

      Verizon should have openly stated they were releasing our personal information to the NSA, by not doing so they have breached the contract. I too am looking into this because if I can bail today I most certainly will.

      • flyinggerbil

        right. but the problem is, the government has the ability to force service providers to “breach” contract terms but effectively indemnify them against any action by the users. far clauses and the like are the WORST.

      • Sqube

        I’m pretty sure “directory of phone numbers” has a very specific definition, and “giving everything to the NSA because a FISA court said so” doesn’t qualify.

      • James_75

        This is like saying your new home builder is in breach of contract because he was held at gunpoint and ordered not to finish your home on time. No one in their right mind would overlook those extenuating circumstances in a court of law.