We knew the Bush administration played fast and loose with Americans' privacy but it's now been confirmed that President Obama is no less keen on spying on his citizens. According to a court order obtained by the Guardian and published overnight, Verizon Business, a subsidiary of the giant telecoms operator Verizon, has been ordered to supply the National Security Agency with call records of all its customers for three months ending on July 19. It's a good bet that this isn't the first such order, and that other telcos are supplying the same information.
In a broad sense, this is fairly standard stuff: government bodies--and not just intelligence agencies--routinely request access to these records for matters ranging from tax fraud to day-to-day law enforcement. But what's alarming to civil-liberties advocates is that the NSA's hoovering up of information is focused not on suspicious individuals but on every user of Verizon's network: It's pre-emptive data collection, on the off-chance that it might one day be needed.
This is less surprising that it should be. The world's biggest internet companies got rich doing exactly the same thing. Like the security apparatus, they too are eager to gather every last speck of information about you. One group does it to target better ads and build more omniscient products. The other does it in the interests of national security.