The National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of customers of a Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) subsidiary, according to a top-secret court order issued in April that was uncovered by The Guardian. The order, signed by Judge Roger Vinson of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in April, orders Verizon Business Network Service, to hand over "on an ongoing daily basis" to the NSA all call logs "between the United States and abroad" or "wholly within the United States, including local telephone calls." However, as the New York Times notes, the order does not apply to the content of the communications.
It is not clear if any Verizon Wireless customers' call information was collected under the order. Verizon declined to comment, but, according to the Associated Press, the White House defended the NSA's need to collect telephone records of U.S. citizens, calling such information "a critical tool in protecting the nation from terrorist threats." An unnamed administration official told the AP, "On its face, the order reprinted in the article does not allow the government to listen in on anyone's telephone calls." Some senators, including Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.), have warned that the government is using surveillance powers given to it under the Patriot Act in overly broad ways that would shock U.S. citizens if they knew about it. Article