The Guardian reports that the U.S. National Security Agency is now collecting millions of U.S. Verizon customers’ telephone records, under a top-secret court order dating back to April. The order requires Verizon to provide the government with such data on an “ongoing, daily basis,” the report states. The data includes location, call duration and unique identifiers. The practice is possible due to a “business documents” provision within the USA PATRIOT Act. Because the data is designated “metadata,” rather than “communications,” a warrant is not necessary. In reaction to the news, former Vice President Al Gore tweeted, “In the digital era, privacy must be a priority. Is it just me, or is secret blanket surveillance obscenely outrageous?” The AP has quoted a senator as saying collection of phone records by NSA is an “ongoing practice.” Editor’s Note: David Medine was recently confirmed as chairman of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) and Former White House Deputy Chief Technology Officer Danny Weitzner explained why privacy pros should pay attention to the PCLOB.
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