Another three months have come and gone, so the National Security Agency has re-upped its authorization to track your phone calls.
However, the practice of metadata collection, where phone companies hand over the call records of every call made through their system to the NSA, has existed for years. It’s authorized every three months.
The program was secret until June, with the first of many revelations from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. That’s when the Guardian released a related FISC order, demanding Verizon to give up its customers’ metadata, which ends up stored in an NSA database. Later Snowden documents have shown that neither Verizon nor any phone company have never challenged that order.
Though other NSA programs have a far wider-reaching scope, the metadata collection—which for a while included email—has attracted the most attention in Congress. Though more than a dozen bills to fight the NSA are currently floating around Congress, only representative Justin Amash (R-Mich.)’s bid to end the metadata collection program has actually seen a vote.
Clapper’s office didn’t declassify the actual FISC order, though its press release said a declassification was in progress. It makes sense: the intelligence community isn’t exactly making accountability a top priority during the government shutdown.
Photo by Kevin Dooley/Flickr | Remix by Fernando Alfonso III