Mega-corporation Verizon Wireless has been disclosing its customers’ phone records to the government, and it seems the backlash being seen from the wireless company’s angry customers is doing very little to thwart the government’s surveillance program anytime soon. The wireless company continues to release daily customer phone records to the National Security Agency (NSA) for review.The Obama Administration defends its stance for the collection of the phone records, saying that the surveillance program is a “critical tool in protecting the nation from terrorist threats.”
The Guardian reported that Verizon is conforming to a court order that was issued earlier this year under the Patriot Act. The top-secret order focuses on the review of phone record “metadata” which includes the details of location, duration, and time of phone calls, as well as the caller’s identity. The NSA’s claims the objective of the surveillance is to monitor individuals’ network communications and patterns.
The order gives the government unrestricted access to the metadata from the Verizon records over a three month period, which began in April 2013 and ends next month. Upset customers seeking to remove themselves from the government’s surveillance might find it hard to elude the surveillance by switching to another wireless carrier, as similar court orders may have been implemented already, according to Vice President of the New America Foundation, Sascha Meinrath, in an interview with the Huffington Post.
“I think it’s quite probable, given the breadth of the Verizon order, that similar orders have been granted for all major telephone companies,” said Meinrath. “We are likely looking at a nation-wide fishing expedition of everyone’s phone records and geolocation, updated daily and covering nearly every call originating in the U.S.”
The NSA’s collection of metadata from unwilling customers appears to be an invasive form of surveillance of citizen communication activity. Unless lawmakers are convinced to amend surveillance laws, intrusive actions by the government, such as the NSA’s surveillance of phone records, could continue to invade American citizens’ privacy.
Krysta Loera is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire.