All speculations regarding the U.S. government monitoring and collecting information of Americans turned out to be true. It has finally been confirmed through Verizon Wireless that the Obama administration is collecting phone records of U.S. citizens without any notifications.
The Guardian obtained a copy of the top secret court order issued to Verizon, one of the largest telecommunications giants in the country, by the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. It requires the company to handover all telephone records in its systems to the National Security Agency.
The news has caused ripples in national and international media as the news was broken late Wednesday. Anti-government surveillance organizations such as Electronic Frontier Foundation were quick to react to the news by saying, “It [the court orders] should spur Congress and the American people to make the President finally tell the truth about the government's spying on innocent Americans.”
The revelation is sure to spark a lot of questions regarding President Obama and his constant refutation of any government interference in citizens’ communication networks. The current administration was just trying to recover from the Associated Press controversy and Fox News email scandal. The disclosure of the Verizon court orders is going to be another (huge) blow to the government’s credibility. People are already citing their concerns on the internet:
The government spying on US citizen's calls scares me to my core. We are entering dangerous territory from which there is no return.— Ben Parr (@benparr) June 6, 2013
FISA (has been in place since the Carter administration) and we're shocked, shocked I tell you to find the government has been spying on us.—UltraVerified (@UltraVerified) June 6, 2013
Since the US government is illegally spying on all Verizon communications (and probably all other providers), say something odd everyday.— Benjamin Elliott (@bfelliott) June 6, 2013
Obama popularity should drop. How many Verizon customers in the country?All should be outraged.— Citizen (@strongthought) June 6, 2013
Last year in December, William Binney, a whistleblower and former National Security Agency (NSA) crypto-mathematician revealed details on how the NSA had spied on US citizens since 9/11. Binney explained how the top-secret surveillance program can track electronic activities; phone calls, emails, banking and travel records, social media—and map them to collect data on people.
The report has left many appalled. So much so that former Vice President Al-Gore also took to Twitter and expressed his outrage over the Obama administration. Gore referred to the court orders and called the entire matter ‘obscenely outrageous’:
In digital era, privacy must be a priority. Is it just me, or is secret blanket surveillance obscenely outrageous? ow.ly/lKS13— Al Gore (@algore) June 6, 2013
While the revealed Verizon reports have exposed the secret monitoring by the government, Attorney General Eric Holder said in an interview that he wasn’t comfortable with checking e-mails of journalists without permission and was determined to ‘change’ that.
But Mr. Holder, this time it’s quite different. It’s the people; the common people who didn’t have anything to do with any investigative reporting etc. Americans, especially Verizon customers are not going to be too happy about it. Some are even thinking about dropping the service:
Do you want freedom of a good credit? Drop your @verizon wireless and just don't pay the penalty. Go to ANY other company.— Hi, I'm Harold Saxon (@T4RD1S) June 6, 2013
Might have to drop Verizon. Do not agree AT ALL with the agreement they made w/the NSA to give all their customers phone records to them.— Jim Gilmour (@JimboGilmour) June 6, 2013
Are you a Verizon customer? What do you have to say about this?