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Verizon Ordered to Hand Over Phone Records to NSA

June 5, 2013

Verizon NSA order

By Gilbert Falso :: 11:57 PM

Major U.S. telephone and wireless service provider Verizon has been under a court order to provide the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) with data showing all information regarding telephone calls made from the U.S. to foreign countries or between two parties located in the U.S.

This information came to light late Wednesday night, after U.K. newspaper The Guardian ran a story with the details of the NSA order to Verizon. Under terms of the order, Verizon cannot comment on, or even acknowledge the NSA’s request for telephone call data.

Such an order is the most broad reaching government request for U.S. citizen data ever noted. It runs from April 25 through July 19, and covers all data points related to phone calls, including caller and called party location data, duration of the call, telephone numbers involved, and the time and duration of the calls. The only thing it does not cover is the content of the calls – what was said between the participating parties.

Under the terms of the order, the records of all telephone communications over Verizon’s networks originating in the U.S., regardless of whether the participants are suspected of a crime, are being captured and handed over to the federal government.

While Verizon is the only U.S. carrier that The Guardian found an NSA order for, many analysts suspect that other major U.S. telecommunications companies have also been given similar orders. Because the order explicitly prohibits Verizon from notifying customers or the general public about its existence, it is likely that other carriers have orders with the same clause.

When news of the unprecedented order came to light late in the evening, Twitter users quickly shared the information long before traditional news outlets covered it. Some even turned to humor despite the gravity of the situation, and started the hashtag #CallsTheNSAKnowsAbout and mentioned some of their more mundane telephone conversations. See below for some popular Twitter quips.