The US government is collecting the phone records of millions of US customers of Verizon under a top secret court order. Read the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court order here via The Guardian
“It’s an overstatement to say that it’s beginning to look like President George W. Bush’s fourth term, writes NPR’s Frank James.
Still, that characterization by former Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer carried the ring of truth Thursday with the report that a National Security Agency telecommunications program that Americans first became aware of under Bush has continued under Obama.
The revelation that the intelligence agency, with federal court approval, was gathering all data about domestic phone calls on Verizon’s network was yet another reminder of the continuity, at least on matters of national security, between the two administrations.
And now news of a broader program of internet surveillance that reportedly targets foreign communications on U.S.-based servers.
“The National Security Agency and the FBI are tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, extracting audio and video chats, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs that enable analysts to track foreign targets, according to a top-secret document obtained by The Washington Post,” write Barton Gellman and Laura Poitras.
Gellman and Poitras report that the NSA obtains data from nine internet service providers including Google, Apple, Yahoo and Facebook. The companies deny knowledge of the program.
The program, code-named PRISM, has not been made public until now. It may be the first of its kind. The NSA prides itself on stealing secrets and breaking codes, and it is accustomed to corporate partnerships that help it divert data traffic or sidestep barriers. But there has never been a Google or Facebook before, and it is unlikely that there are richer troves of valuable intelligence than the ones in Silicon Valley.
The Post reports the NSA is using PRISM “as its leading source of raw material, accounting for nearly 1 in 7 intelligence reports.”
Today’s Question: What level of domestic snooping by the government is acceptable?