The US National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of unwitting individuals via a secret court order issued in April obtained by The Guardian newspaper, which has posted it online.
Unlike warrants that have been issued to collect the information of suspects targetted by intelligence agencies, the newly disclosed top secret order requires Verizon, one of the largest telecom agencies in the US, to provide both the FBI and the NSA information on all telephone calls made through its systems, both domestically and to foreign countries.
According to a copy of the order, Verizon is required to disclose the numbers of both parties during a call, as well as location, call duration, and other unique data on an "ongoing, daily basis.” Meaning that, regardless of whether an individual is suspected of or linked to any crime, the data of all Verizon customers is currently being delivered in bulk to the intelligence agency.
As to the authority claimed by the government via this order, that is specifically cited to fall under the “business records” provision of the PATRIOT Act of 2001, which was granted a four-year extension by President Obama in May of 2011.
It remains unclear as to whether the order, which spans a three-month period, represents a single instance, or is indicative of recurring cases of Verizon and other telephony providers being ordered to disclose all their clients' call records. ................