The government is spying on US Verizon users

Verizon NSAA huge privacy story broke today on The Guardian, revealing that the FBI and NSA are collecting all call information from Verizon users in the US. This is blanket surveillance that affects everyone, regardless of whether they’re suspected of any wrongdoing. Odds are extremely high that this is happening for other wireless providers too.

Almost all of these orders contain a gag order, which means that no one can talk about the order, despite the massive privacy violations it enables. The only reason we know about this one is because someone leaked it to The Guardian (read the full order here). In this case, Verizon couldn’t say anything about it; they just had to comply. Even US Senators couldn’t talk about it to the public; they could only hint at the privacy abuses going on.

The order requires “ongoing, daily” access to all call detail records for US Verizon users, whether they’re calling others in the US or people outside the country. The only calls exempt are those from foreigners to other foreigners.

What do they get? Enough to draw a detailed picture of who you called and where you were at the time:

  • Your phone number
  • The number of the person you’re calling
  • Location data
  • Unique identifiers, like your International Mobile Subscriber Identity number
  • Phone calling card numbers
  • Time and duration of all calls
Image: ACLU.org

Image: ACLU.org

We’ve seen time and time again that these smaller pieces of data about you may not be enough to identify you by themselves, but pieced together, they tell a clear story about you. Although the contents of the conversation itself are not covered, law enforcement can request wiretaps and more detailed surveillance for specific callers they’d like to examine more closely.

The top-secret order, which is still active today, covers the 3 months between April 25th and July 19th, 2013. Text on the order shows that it wasn’t supposed to be declassified until 25 years from now in 2038.

This sort of blanket surveillance became possible after 9/11 because of the Patriot Act, specifically the “business records” provision that allows the FISA court warrants for records without proving that those records are connected to terrorism. An attack on our country paved the way for our government to invade its own people’s privacy rights without restriction.

This news powerfully illustrates how ingrained private companies have become in government surveillance. These companies–companies you depend on for services–mine your data and hand it over to the government. They don’t even have a say in whether they do it because the laws are so restrictive. They can’t even talk about it.

Remember that the 4th Amendment protects us from unreasonable searches and seizures, and this search seems pretty unreasonable. American people should be shocked. Current privacy laws just aren’t enough to protect people, and they need to change. Sign petitions, write your members of Congress, tell your friends, tell your wireless provider…go make a stink. This is unacceptable.




2 comments shared on this article:

  • Holly Kang says:

    “The US is at a point where just when the people imagine things can’t get any worse, they realize their imaginations weren’t big enough. 
”
    ― Jarod Kintz, Who Moved My Choose?: An Amazing Way to Deal With Change by Deciding to Let Indecision Into Your Life
    I like to choose quotes. They exemplify the commonality of the subject matter. We are surprised by this action from the patriot act? I’ve been expecting it to become public for 40 years. If you can, get your hands on the book “The 5th Estate” try to do so. It’s not being published anymore, but covers this and similar subjects well. Considered scifi at the time it was written (I believe in the 1950s), went out of print sometime after Nixon.

    • SNAKE IN THE GRASS says:

      The guy that exposed that the US is spying does not have a clear idea of what he
      is or should be talking about. The US is spying, really who did not know that?
      What is important to me is not that the US is spying but who is truly spying
      and why? It’s been known for years that the US is spying.

      I remember one time I had to call the FBI and reported that someone was following
      me. He then added that he will find me and deal with me. I finally know why he said
      that. The US is spying, but this FBI agent felt it was them that was spying on me
      and I am reporting the man on himself. He would think that I am talking about them
      because when a law breaking faction exists in a country they mimic the original
      secret service acting like the original.

      What the government does not know is that there are groups of people that live right
      in our city that uses their power of persuasion, such as spying to handle people’s life.
      Groups as simple as Block Associations, they are interest in people too seriously.
      They act like it’s all a joke, and who they truly are working for are drug dealers and
      crime families.

      I have been experienced their crap for years. Believe it or not it all started in Junior HS
      all it takes is a few problems for these people to get on your case and they never let go.

      It’s as though this entire country is run by children.

      I have a serious story for you. I truly think these people caused the World Trade Center
      bombings. These people are US terrorists that slip through the hands of the US
      government because they pretend to be a part of the governing body in the country.
      Instead of getting a person arrested for a crime the said criminal is terrorized. Guilty
      or not!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Get the picture crazy people. It’s worse than you think and it’s not who you think.

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