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 phrase “government monitoring” used to invoke an image of FBI agents in a van recording specific phone calls. That changed when Edward Snowden published documents revealing that the technology is now in place to monitor every conversation transmitted across our entire society and search through the results. These documents revealed mass searches by the United States government that violated the 4th amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. This is a major failure of the oversight that keeps our government within the legal boundaries we have established …