Critics say phone-record collection goes too far

WASHINGTON (AP) — Critics are describing it as a huge government over-reach. They’re reacting to news that the government has been secretly collecting the phone records of millions of U.S. customers of Verizon under a top-secret court order.

The activity was first reported by the British newspaper The Guardian. And now, the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee — Dianne Feinstein of California — is confirming that the court order is a three-month renewal of an ongoing practice.

In fact, a U.S. official says the sweeping roundup of U.S. phone records has been going on for years, and was a key part of the Bush administration’s warrantless surveillance program.

The Obama administration isn’t confirming the collection of phone records, but it’s defending the need of the National Security Agency to collect phone records of U.S. citizens.

Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon — a frequent critic of government actions dealing with Americans’ privacy — says the administration should disclose the facts.

And former Vice President Al Gore tweeted that privacy is essential in the digital era. He wrote, “Is it just me, or is secret blanket surveillance obscenely outrageous?”

%@AP Links

146-v-36-(Sagar Meghani (SAH’-gur meh-GAH’-nee), AP national security correspondent)–The Obama administration is defending the National Security Agency’s need to collect telephone records of American citizens. AP National Security Correspondent Sagar Meghani reports from the Pentagon. (6 Jun 2013)

<<CUT *146 (06/06/13)>> 00:36

147-c-24-(Sagar Meghani (SAH’-gur meh-GAH’-nee), AP national security correspondent)-”are not covered”-AP National Security Correspondent Sagar Meghani reports a British newspaper says the National Security Agency has been collecting the phone records of millions of Americans under a top-secret court order. (6 Jun 2013)

<<CUT *147 (06/06/13)>> 00:24 “are not covered”

GRAPHICSBANK: VERIZON logo, graphic element on gray (6 Jun 2013)

APPHOTO NY107: FILE – In this Feb. 10, 2011 file photo, Chris Cioban, manager of the Verizon store in Beachwood, Ohio, holds up an Apple iPhone 4G. Britain’s Guardian newspaper says the National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of U.S. customers of Verizon under a secret court order. The newspaper said Wednesday, June 5, 2013 the order was issued in April and was good until July 19. The newspaper said the order requires Verizon on an “ongoing, daily basis” to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the U.S. and between the U.S. and other countries. (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta, File) (10 Feb 2011)

<<APPHOTO NY107 (02/10/11)>>

APPHOTO NYBZ110: FILE – In this Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2012, file photo, customers walk into a Verizon Wireless store in Dallas. The Obama administration on Thursday, June 6, 2013, defended the government’s need to collect telephone records of American citizens, calling such information “a critical tool in protecting the nation from terrorist threats.” Britain’s Guardian newspaper reported that the NSA has been collecting the telephone records of millions of Verizon customers under a top secret court order. (AP Photo/LM Otero, File) (17 Oct 2012)

<<APPHOTO NYBZ110 (10/17/12)>>

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