With all the attention that PRISM has gotten from the national and world’s media, the FISA courts have been thrust into the spotlight like never before. The court that was established by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act is one that generally works under the radar for obvious reasons. A great deal of the warrants that it issues are issued in secret, and the only time anyone ever finds out they have been issued, they are found out because of programs like PRISM.
While there has been plenty of heat on the FISA courts from companies like the ACLU and even companies like Microsoft and AOL (News - Alert), it appears that there are also plenty of people who are plenty happy with how it is operating. If there is any anger out there over how this very secretive court is operating, then those people are about to get a little bit angrier. Late last week, the court renewed an order that will continue to force Verizon (News - Alert) to turn over hundreds of millions of telephone records to the U.S. government on a daily basis.
The order has actually been in place for several years, but just recently came to light thanks to Edward Snowden and the like. The order needs to be renewed every three months and was set to expire on Friday. The fact that it was renewed shows that while there have concerns about the lack of privacy this kind of snooping involves, the Obama administration and the court believe it is entirely legal and very helpful in the fight against terrorism.
The office of National Intelligence Director James Clapper issued a statement confirming that the Verizon order had been renewed, saying that Clapper “has decided to declassify and disclose publicly that the government filed an application with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court seeking renewal of the authority to collect telephony metadata in bulk, and that the court renewed that authority."
Verizon is hardly the only company that is ordered to turn over user records, but it has been in the middle of the flap over whether the government is overstepping its bounds since the PRISM project was first brought to light.
Edited by Rachel Ramsey