"Today's stunning report that the National Security Agency is collecting the phone records of millions of U.S. Verizon customers is beginning to spark a backlash against the Obama administration from the left.
The Guardian reported that the NSA issued an order that allows it to collect phone records from Verizon customers "indiscriminately and in bulk – regardless of whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing." Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein (D-Ca.) confirmed that the order, which was issued in April, was a three-month renewal of an ongoing practice. The Washington Post reported that practice dates back to 2006. The order was approved by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) court, and a senior administration official told ABC News that it "does not allow the government to listen in on anyone's telephone calls" and the information collected does not include customers' names. Instead it "relates exclusively to metadata," including telephone numbers and the length of the call.
But that hasn't been enough to allay the concerns of civil libertarians on the left, who are concerned about the size and scope of the government's record collection practices.
"This type of secret bulk data collection is an outrageous breach of Americans' privacy," Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley (D) said in a statement.
"In digital era, privacy must be a priority," tweeted former vice president Al Gore. "Is it just me, or is secret blanket surveillance obscenely outrageous?"