A top secret court document requiring Verizon to hand over information about all calls placed over its network has been brought to light by British publication, The Guardian. According to the document, the Federal Bureau of Investigation requested that data collected by Verizon Business Services be given to the National Security Agency and was granted its request on April 25th by the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
The order was considered classified and scheduled to remain out of public sight until April 12th 2038. Verizon and all other parties involved were forbidden to disclose any information regarding the court order, or even that the FBI and NSA had sought such a measure, to the general populace; the communications giant is allowed only to discuss the order with its own legal counsel and those within the company needed to remain in compliance.
With the order, the NSA is able to obtain all pieces of “telephony metadata” pertaining to call records between the United States and abroad or wholly within the US. “Telephony metadata” is defined by the document as routing information including “session identifying information (e.g., originating and terminating telephone number)… trunk identifier, telephone calling card numbers, and time and duration of call,” all of which Verizon is required to provide to the NSA “on an ongoing daily basis.”
FISA stopped short of mandating the names and addresses of customers or the actual conversational content of phone calls be turned over, but all other information pertaining to the length and times of phone calls, phone numbers involved, and potentially even the location of phones during calls must be offered up in the form of an electronic copy.
If the document is real, it would mean that the phone records of tens of millions of Americans are being collected by the Federal Government under the “business records” provision of the Patriot Act; this would constitute the most sweeping domestic surveillance order the country has ever known. The order is scheduled to expire on July 19th of this year.
[Source: The Guardian]