The land of the free where the roads seem paved with gold to immigrants with big dreams, apparently is not as free as everyone would like to think. Recent reports have revealed that the NSA is monitoring telephone calls of millions of U.S. customers of Verizon.
NSA spying on U.S. phone users does not entirely concern us Singaporeans, but we still make it a point to know what’s going on around the world because we’re wordly, well-travelled, and highly educated cosmopolitans... Ah who am I kidding? We’re all just a bunch of super ‘kay-pohs’ (busy-bodies). So read on Mr/Ms/Mrs Kay-Poh. ;)
The National Security Agency (NSA) is an intelligence agency responsible for the collection and analysis of domestic communications and information systems. Lately, the NSA is better known for conducting widespread, untargeted surveillance on millions of Americans through Verizon (one of America’s biggest telecom provider a.k.a. the Singtel of America) much to the Americans’ chagrin.
A top secret document obtained by the Guardian, that apparently is not so 'top secret' anymore since it is being splashed all over the internet, requires Verizon on an “ongoing, daily basis” to provide NSA with information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the U.S, between the U.S. and other countries.
The secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) permitted the order to the FBI on April 25, giving the government unlimited authority to obtain the data for a three month period, which ends on July 19.
This operation of NSA collecting millions of phone records is highly unusual. Under normal circumstances, FISA would direct the production of records pertaining to a specific named target suspected of crimes against the country, but never towards a large mass of innocent people.
The court order specifically forbids Verizon from disclosing to the public that their calls are being recorded for the FBI. The order also directs Verizon to "continue production on an ongoing daily basis thereafter for the duration of this order". It indicated that the records to be produced include "session identifying information", such as "originating and terminating number", the duration of each call, telephone calling card numbers, trunk identifiers, International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) number, and "comprehensive communication routing information".
The order does not include contents of messages or subscribers’ personal information. Despite this, it allows NSA to study the frequency, location and timing of every user’s outgoing and incoming calls.
It is uncertain whether Verizon is the only telecom provider to be targeted with the order. However, previous reporting has suggested that NSA has collected mobile phone records from all major network operators.
Many Americans are pissed as hell; they find it a gross invasion of privacy. Some are cool with it because they rationalize that the government is just working at keeping America safe from the likes of terrorists and threats from foreign countries. Others simply don’t give a shit.
Benjamin Doyle, 23, from Boston, Massachusetts expressed bad-ass nonchalence, "It was not surprising. People already assumed it was happening (reasonable people that is)."