According to Guardian, “The National Security Agency had been collecting records under a court order from millions of Verizon customers in the U.S. Defenders of the program tried to ease the furor by assuring the public this is “nothing new” — and in fact has been going on for seven years”.
On Wednesday, the newspaper published directing the Verizon company to hand over telephone data.
The order directs Verizon – one of the largest phone companies in the US – to “continue production on an ongoing daily basis thereafter for the duration of this order”.
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”.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the monitoring also included AT&T Inc and Sprint Nextel Corp customers.
“Сollecting Americans” phone records was legal, authorised by Congress and had not been abused by the Obama administration,” said US House intelligence committee chairman. He added it had prevented a “significant” attack on the US “within the past few years” but declined to offer more information.
On Thursday Washington Post reported that U.S. authorities had been tapping into the central servers of nine internet companies – including Google, Apple, Yahoo and Facebook.
Internet companies have long been monitoring the data that covers a person”s entire life: e-mail, financial information, health-related searches, family members, and location information. It represents a level of surveillance that was never possible before.
Google, Apple, Yahoo and Facebook denied that the government was able to tap directly into their central servers, as the newspaper reported.
“We have never received a blanket request or court order from any government agency asking for information or metadata in bulk, like the one Verizon reportedly received. And if we did, we would fight it aggressively,” said Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook Chief Executive Officer, in a statement.
Also The Washington Post said the surveillance program involving internet firms, code-named PRISM and established under Republican President George W. Bush in 2007, had seen “exponential growth” under Obama, a Democrat. It said the NSA increasingly relied of PRISM as a source of raw material for daily intelligence reports to the president.
According to Fox News, “Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., meanwhile, is introducing a separate bill that aims to shore up Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches.
“The revelation that the NSA has secretly seized the call records of millions of Americans, without probable cause, represents an outrageous abuse of power and a violation of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution,” he said in a statement.
His bill would order that the Fourth Amendment not be “construed” to allow any federal agency to search phone records of Americans without a warrant based on probable cause”.
The New York Times editorial board, which twice endorsed President Obama and has championed many planks of his agenda, on Thursday turned on the president over the government”s mass collection of phone data — saying the administration has “lost all credibility.”
On Friday, President Barack Obama noted both NSA programmes had been authorised repeatedly by Congress and were subject to continual oversight by congressional intelligence committees and by secret intelligence courts.
He said: “You can”t have 100% security and also then have 100% privacy and zero inconvenience”.
The President added, that US internet communications of US citizens and residents were not targeted, “nobody is listening to your phone calls”.