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US authorities have been quietly collecting millions of call records - shock

The Guardian reported this week that a Verizon subsidiary, Verizon Business Network Services, was bulk handling all its call details (both national and international) and handing them over to the authorities.

According to the Washington Post, which of course has picked up the story, there is outrage from civil liberties advocates over the extent of the surveillance. It thinks that many in the US will be wondering if the security regime, introduced after the 9/11 twin tower attacks, now needs another look.

According to the Guardian, Verizon was operating at the behest of the National Security Agency under the provisions of a top secret court order. This required Verizon to ship all its telephone call records (just the call record, not the conversation) to the NSA on a daily basis.

Says the Guardian: "The document shows for the first time that under the Obama administration the communication records of millions of US citizens are being collected indiscriminately and in bulk – regardless of whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing."

For The Guardian the big disappointment is that, although it was known that the Bush administration dealt in large-scale call record monitoring, this is the first time President Obama's administration had been implicated.

The court order, which is apparently renewed on a rolling basis, also has a gagging clause, forbidding Verizon from disclosing both the existence of the FBI's request for records, or the court order itself.

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