The National Security Agency (NSA) is tracking the phone calls for millions of Verizon Wireless customers.
According to a new report, the NSA is using Patriot Act, 50 USC section 1861 to monitor “business records.”
Opponents of the Patriot act have long argued that section 1861 allows for the unlimited collection and storage of “metadata” in direct violation of privacy rights. The records collected allow the US government to track the identity of every person a Verizon customer contacts.
The NSA collects Verizon Wireless metadata in order to discover an individual’s network of associations and communication patterns.
The NSA uses the massive amount of information collected to datamine for terrorist and other illegal associations. The program was started under the Bush administration and has continued to grow in strength under President Obama. The NSA started the collection of data program on October 4, 2001 after President Bush issued a secret authorization for data collection.
As you may recall, a USA Today report in 2006 exposed the program which it says had “been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth” and was “using the data to analyze calling patterns in an effort to detect terrorist activity.”
The NSA was started to track foreign intelligence; however, in recent years, the company has become ever increasingly focused on domestic communication. In fact, it was that shift in focus that caused 30-year NSA veteran William Binney to leave the agency as it shifted from foreign targets to a focus on US citizens.
Before his death Democratic senator Frank Church warned of the shift in focus in terms of spying on the American people.
“The NSA’s capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter.”
Do you think the NSA is overstepping its bounds?