Earlier this week, leaked court documents published by The Guardian indicated that the National Security Agency has been, and currently still is, collecting call records in bulk from Verizon Wireless. But now, a report from The Wall Street Journal cites “people familiar with the NSA’s operations” who say that data is also being collected from AT&T and Sprint — along with other internet service providers — as well as information on credit card purchases.
The NSA request for Verizon’s data was granted on April 25 by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and the ruling extends until July 19th. According to The Wall Street Journal, the NSA receives “metadata, telling them who is communicating, through what medium, when, and where they are located.” The NSA does not, however, receive information about the identity of the customer or the content of a call.
The collection of call data has apparently evolved from the Patriot Act, a law passed following September 11, 2001, which allowed the government to wiretap citizens’ phones without a warrant. As such, the collection is lawful, though the secret U.S. court must renew the program every three months.