[BREAKING] “Top Secret” Court Order Forces Verizon to Hand Over Call Data
The UK newspaper The Guardian has revealed today that US CDMA telecommunications provider Verizon is secretly collecting and disclosing the telephone records of a huge number of subscribers (likely in the order of tens of millions of Americans) to USA’s National Security Agency (NSA), often cynically referred to as “Never Say Anything.” This classified, top secret court order, whose classification does not expire until April 2038, compels Verizon to provide, and continue to provide on an ongoing basis:
[…] an electronic copy of the following tangible things:
All call detail records or “telephony metadata” created by Verizon for communications
(i) between the United States and abroad; or
(ii) wholly within the United States, including local telephone calls
As if to somewhat diminish this, the order goes on to state it does not require Verizon to provide details of calls that start and end outside of the United States. This is little comfort, however, for any subscriber using the Verizon network, as the order goes on to detail the definition of the metadata requested. This includes the source and end-point telephone numbers, the IMSI and IMEI numbers, and the trunk identifier, among other things. The significance of this is that the presence of both the IMEI and IMSI numbers mean that Verizon is being forced to disclose information that identifies individual devices and handsets in use (the IMEI permits identification of the handset model in use, as well as the individual phone).
Quite why such top-secret blanket surveillance is required is obviously the top question right now. And while the NSA claims this is the equivalent to looking at a traditional letter’s envelope, it seems a somewhat tenuous link since letters do not contain an unchangeable identifier on them (IMEI) that can be tied back to you at the point of purchase.
While the NSA’s aims specifically exclude it from carrying out “spying” or surveillance on non-foreign targets, this is somewhat concerning, no?
Source: The Guardian