The Guardian obtained a secret court order that reveals the NSA is collecting bulk telephone call records from all Verizon customers regardless of whether they were the subject of an investigation or not. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court granted the order to the FBI, which began collecting the data on a daily basis in April. The order gives the US permission to collect this data for a three month period ending July 19.
Under the order, the government can collect information like originating phone number, the destination phone number, call duration, IMEI/IMSI, location information and more. This data does not include the content of the conversation. Information will be collected from all calls within the US and from those calls that originate inside the US and connect to a caller in a foreign country.
The US government has collected bulk call records without a warrant in the past, but this is the first case involving the Obama administration. This is also the first time Verizon Wireless has been identified publicly as a company that provides call records on all its customers to the government. According to the AP, the Obama Administration defended the collection of this data calling it “”a critical tool in protecting the nation from terrorist threats.”