FBI collecting phone records of millions of Americans: report

FBI collecting phone records of millions of Americans: report

The Obama administration has obtained telephone records of millions of Americans in bulk on an "ongoing daily basis" from Verizon, a leading British newspaper reported today, provoking angry reactions from rights groups over FBI's sweeping domestic spying powers.

"The National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America's largest telecoms providers, under a top secret court order issued in April," The Guardian reported.

The order, a copy of which has been obtained by the paper, requires Verizon on an "ongoing, daily basis" to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries, the report said.

The secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) granted the order to the FBI on April 25, giving the Obama administration unlimited authority to obtain the data for a specified three-month period ending on July 19, the report said.

Under the terms of the four-page blanket order, the numbers of both parties on a call are handed over, as is location data, call duration, unique identifiers, and the time and duration of all calls. The contents of the conversation itself are not covered.

Reacting to the report, a senior Obama administration official said that the purported order "does not allow the government to listen in on anyone's telephone calls" but relates only to "metadata, such as a telephone number or the length of a call."

The official said such information "has been a critical tool in protecting the nation from terrorist threats to the United States," the Washington Post reported.

The official added that "all three branches of government are involved in reviewing and..

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