NSA Secretly Collecting Records Of All Verizon Phone Calls

NSA Secretly Collecting RecordsSince April, under a secret court order, Verizon has been providing the government daily with details of every phone call made by U.S. customers on its network, Glenn Greenwald reports in the Guardian:

The National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America’s largest telecoms providers, under a top secret court order issued in April. The order, a copy of which has been obtained by the Guardian, requires Verizon on an “ongoing, daily basis” to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries.

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 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 contents of the conversation itself are not covered.

The secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (Fisa) granted the order to the FBI on April 25, giving the government unlimited authority to obtain the data for a specified three-month period ending on July 19. The disclosure is likely to reignite longstanding debates in the US over the proper extent of the government’s domestic spying powers.

The court order 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. “We decline comment,” said Ed McFadden, a Washington-based Verizon spokesman.

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  • emperorreagan

    Phone calls? Pssht.

    They should listen to my conversations with my dogs. I’m like a demented Tom Bombadil.

    • Anarchy Pony

      Which one is Fatty Lumpkin?

      • emperorreagan

        We’ve dog sat for a Burmese mountain dog that could pass for a pony.

        • Anarchy Pony

          Whoa! I just saw one at work yesterday.
          Oh wait, no, that was the day before.

  • Ittabena

    By an odd coincidence I just finished watching Nova; The Spy Factory last night. Of course ya can’t tell how little of it was true or how much of it was untrue, However, William Bamford was on it prominently so…

    At any rate, the claim was made that since 9/11 the NSA has been collecting all phone calls. It was even mentioned that the amount of data this translated into was huge – measured in Petobytes (sp?) but that the problem was getting people to go through it. As I say, I do not know the truth/fiction percentage in all this. However, the film also pointed out that the problem before 9/11 was that the NSA would not share it’s information with either the FBI or the CIA despite alleged repeated requests.

    So it seems as though – if we are to believe the previous – that the headline would be more correct if it mentioned that the NSA was ordered to share, or that Verizon was ordered to cooperate.

    • Craig Bickford

      William Binney has stated that this has been going on since 2005 or so, and that they have had access to the AT&T trunk lines in San Fran (that one he actually saw) and other end use points where they can record all. He was interviewed on Democracy now a few months back. This Verizon secret warrant court thing that just came out is bullshit, they have been recording all info on phones, computers, texts etc and have been violating their own charter, many federal acts and laws for years now, so they are just bringing their illegal activities into the light of day and legalizing their crimes now. As always I will leave them a message for posterity; Fuck you NSA.

      • BuzzCoastin

        this has been going on since about 1900
        Tim Wu’s book The Master Switch has the details

        • Ittabena

          Nice, I will look for it.

      • Ittabena

        Actually, it has been going on longer than that. In the Spy Factory they laid claim to right after 9/11. From my own experience there have been cages in some fiber optic regen shelters for as long as there has been fiber laying going on. These cages require a government security clearance before you can enter them. I could stand right outside of them while a credentialed engineer did the required work – maintenance, repairs – but a cigarette break and fresh air always sounded better to me. I always drug my feet when it came to applying for the clearance.

        But as early as the 40′s the telecom companies, have been scratching the governments tummy. Aarons and Loftus revealed that after the pos-Church Committee Congressional ban on domestic wiretapping was put into effect, the NSA enlisted the help of MI6 who was under no such ban. MI6, according to them, was given an office at NSA headquarters and did the actual spying, turning over copies of what they got.

        But I think the premise of the article is the freedom that George Bush gave them after 9/11 and that all that came before doesn’t count, so you would be basically right.

  • InfvoCuernos

    Why just Verizon?

    • Sergio Poalsky

      The government needs to ask the providers for the data. Verizon may be the only one who agreed? not sure though.

      • CosmicAmazing

        I thought it was the exact opposite.. AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile already have agreements with the NSA, FBI, etc etc. Verizon was one of the last carriers to have “resisted” (I use that term lightly) the agencies request for it’s customers info. I could be wrong though..

        • Craig Bickford

          That sounds about right. What they all wanted was immunity from civil or criminal litigation, and Verizon got that but there was some other sticking point with them. I wish I could remember the article I saw this in a while back. Damn my crap short term memory.

        • Sergio Poalsky

          The government has no access to any phone data unless the companies give it to them. Verizon is a private company and nobody can access whose making phone calls on their network except them. Im fairly certain the government needs to ask them for it.

          • Opposite Day

            LMAO! If you actually believe that then I feel sorry for you.

            Officially they may need permission, but unofficially…

            They probably know what your farts sound like while you sleep at night.

          • Sergio Poalsky

            What im saying is that the government doesn’t have access without permission. What do you think they can do? they cant just monitor traffic moving through a mobile network operator without the MNP giving them access. Do you think the government snuck some monitoring device into the MNP’s switching centers without their knowledge? The government isnt omnipotent. If they can just magically monitor traffic without verizons (or whatever MNP/ISP’s) knowledge, whats stopping the average person from doing it? I’m perfectly comfortable with accepting the idea that they are doing it, but I have not been provided no explanation of how it could be done.

          • CosmicAmazing

            - “Do you think the government snuck some monitoring device into the MNP’s switching centers without their knowledge?”

            I would say yes, absolutely.

            I do contracting work for the government, large corporations, defence contractors and private companies. I can tell you that companies like Qualcomm, for example. They purposely develop backdoors for various government agencies to use. The MNP’s and ISP’s don’t need to give them permission. They don’t even need to be contacted. The government has their own exclusive route, hardwired and hidden within the system itself.

          • Sergio Poalsky

            Im not prone to believing random guys on the internet, but if what you say is true it is very interesting. Still I remain skeptical, if these backdoors were found, the implications on the government would be huge, I dont know if qualcomm or even the government would be willing to take a risk like that. The MNP’s and ISP’s would be able to see traffic on there network going to some strange IP’s which they didnt intend to be getting any information. Unless the software has been programmed to prevent that.

          • CosmicAmazing

            Completely understandable. :)

            I don’t know all the details, but it would definitely be worth researching. You would be amazed at the amount of government influence I see within some of these companies. Even my own company is heavily monitored and regulated by the government. Mostly though ITAR and the FBI, but being that it’s a private company. It’s extremely frustrating to see some of the internal decisions here influenced heavily by the government. I could tell you more about it, but I would have to kill you. ;-)

          • Opposite Day

            You have much to learn about the government my friend..

  • CosmicAmazing

    I once heard that every phone call in the US is, at one point or another, routed through a company owned and operated by Israel. Paltel I think it was. I wish I could remember the source, but it could be fun to do some digging..

    • CosmicAmazing

      Amdocs Ltd is the company, not Paltel.

      Carl Cameron – Fox News Correspondent:

      “Most directory assistance calls, and virtually all call records and billing in the U.S. are done for the phone companies by Amdocs Ltd., an Israeli-based private telecommunications company.”

      “Amdocs has contracts with the 25 biggest phone companies in America, and more worldwide. The White House and other secure government phone lines are protected, but it is virtually impossible to make a call on normal phones without generating an Amdocs record of it.”

      “In recent years, the FBI and other government agencies have investigated Amdocs more than once. The firm has repeatedly and adamantly denied any security breaches or wrongdoing. But sources tell Fox News that in 1999, the super secret national security agency, headquartered in northern Maryland, issued what’s called a Top Secret sensitive compartmentalized information report, TS/SCI, warning that records of calls in the United States were getting into foreign hands – in Israel, in particular.”

  • DeepCough

    I always say “Hi” to the government in my phone conversations.

  • BuzzCoastin

    the only thing shocking about this is that it finally leaked out
    why did Uncle Homeland leak this?
    ’cause it would not make the “press” without Uncle Homey’s blessing
    “All the News that’s been approved to print.”

    Land of the Free, what an embarrassment

  • The Well Dressed Man

    Can you hear me now?

  • lilbear68

    another conspiracy theory proves to have some truth behind it. but we dont care, as long as we have our toys. the sheeple softly bleat ‘but we’re that much safer now’