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White House defends NSA as outrage over Verizon data surveillance grows

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White House (Flickr CC)
White House (Flickr CC)

The White House has moved quickly to defend the collection of phone records by the US National Security Agency (NSA). In a statement shared with the AP, a senior White House official said the handing over of call records is "a critical tool in protecting the nation from terrorist threats." The response comes after a recent report alleged Verizon is being forced to submit "telephony metadata" to the NSA on a daily basis for all calls originating in the US.

Yesterday, The Guardian published details of the order, which requires Verizon to share IMEI numbers, time and duration of calls, and the numbers of the devices placing and receiving the calls. While the senior Obama administration official did not confirm the report, he did note that the order printed in the article "does not allow the government to listen in on anyone's telephone calls." Typically, court orders specifically target a single person or group of people suspected to be engaging in terrorist activities. Former vice president Al Gore has voiced his concerns on the issue, while the ACLU has blasted the US government's surveillance effort, calling for a full congressional investigation.