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Top secret: US government continues with Bush-era phone monitoring

The National Security Agency is collecting the phone records of millions of US customers of Verizon under a top secret court order.

Image: (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta, File)

THE US NATIONAL Security Agency, during the Barack Obama administration has pursued wide-scale monitoring of the telephone records of millions of Americans, the Guardian reported online.

Cellular (mobile) carrier Verizon is required to provide the NSA daily with “information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries,” the paper reported.

It cited a “top-secret court order issued in April” it had obtained.

“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 Guardian report said.

Under the order, “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 report explained.

A Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (Fisa) had “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 paper reported.

The information was classed as metadata, it added.

Under former president George W. Bush, the NSA, as part of a program secretly authorized by Bush in October 2001, implemented a bulk collection of US telephone, Internet and email records.

In 2006, USA Today sent many jaws dropping when it reported that the NSA had “been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth”.

It had been “using the data to analyze calling patterns in an effort to detect terrorist activity,” the paper reported.

“Until now, there has been no indication that the Obama administration implemented a similar program,” the Guardian report notes.

- © AFP, 2013

The Guardian: Verizon order: NSA collecting phone records of millions of Americans daily>
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