The Guardian is reporting that a recent order is forcing Verizon to turn over all records of calls originating in the United States to the US National Security Agency. According to an alleged copy of the order published by The Guardian, Verizon is required to produce on a daily basis all details relating to calls — termed "telephony metadata" — that Verizon creates both for international calls originating within the US and all local calls contained within the country. The metadata in question is listed as including a variety of different types of data, including IMEI numbers, time and duration of the exchanges, and the two phone numbers placing and receiving the calls as well.
Verizon is not required to hand over data on calls that originate abroad, and recordings of the calls themselves are not included in the order. The document was signed by the judge Roger Vinson of the United States Foreign Intelligence Court on April 25th, and the order extends until July 19th.
This isn't the first time Verizon and the NSA have been linked
The order appears to be a follow-up to an application for the records filed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. As part of the order, parties are prohibited from revealing that the NSA or FBI had asked for the records or succeeded in obtaining them. According to the document itself, the order was not set to be declassified until April of 2038. This isn't the first time Verizon and the NSA have been linked either. In 2006 the company denied it was sharing data with the NSA — but only after a $50 billion lawsuit forced its hand. We've reached out to Verizon for comment and will update you with the company's response, if any.
Update: Verizon has declined to comment on the story but the White House has come out in defense of the NSA's data collection practices without specifically mentioning the Verizon order. There's been no shortage of hostile reactions on Twitter, including one from former vice president Al Gore.
In digital era, privacy must be a priority. Is it just me, or is secret blanket surveillance obscenely outrageous? ow.ly/lKS13— Al Gore (@algore) June 6, 2013
The ACLU has also slammed the US government's surveillance effort, calling for a full congressional investigation. "It is beyond Orwellian," said ACLU deputy legal director Jameel Jaffer in a statement.
Update 2: It's worth noting that this leaked court order refers specifically to Verizon Business Services. As such, it's believed the NSA's broad request may not include consumer phone calls placed over the Verizon Wireless network or other non-enterprise services. However, the top secret nature of these documents makes it impossible to know whether similar orders have been delivered to the consumer-facing sides of US carriers Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile. The Verge will continue to follow this story as it develops.