clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Obama administration decides to keep spying on US phone records, says it's in the 'public interest'

New, 139 comments
Prism Assets
Prism Assets

Every 90 days, a secret court has to renew the controversial order that allows the FBI and NSA to spy on the telephone records of every call made in the United States. The last such order expired today, July 19th. But despite the fervor, protest, and lawsuits that have sprung up since whistleblower Edward Snowden helped expose the existence of the government's telephony metadata collection program, the US government renewed that order today. And, in a separate effort, the US Department of Justice informed a New York federal judge that such data collection was in the "public interest," and asked him to throw out a lawsuit protesting the data collection procedure.

Interestingly, the news of the 90 day extension wasn't leaked this time around. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) actually officially disclosed that the US government had asked the FISA secret court to extend the telephone metadata collection program, in the name of transparency. While it definitely might be more transparent to reveal the extension than not, it's not exactly the transparency that many have been requesting.

Though the government is quick to point out that it's not collecting the actual content of telephone conversations, metadata matters more than you might think, and though the director of the FBI insists that even this metadata can only be used for terror investigations, it's difficult to trust the government in this climate of secrecy. The Director of National Intelligence himself, James R. Clapper, recently admitted that he gave an "erroneous statement" in March, when he testified to Congress that the NSA did not collect data on hundreds of millions of Americans.

Read next: Everything you need to know about PRISM