Local civil liberties group speaks out about NSA data collection - NEWS10 ABC: Albany, New York News, Weather, Sports

Local civil liberties group speaks out about NSA data collection


ALBANY, N.Y. -- Under a top secret court order issued back in April, one of the nation's largest phone providers handed over the data of phone calls millions of Americans were making.

"The President in this particular instance had full approval from FISC, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and he had full approval from US congress," said Professor Leonard Cutler.

Cutler wrote a book on the topic of wireless investigations in a post 9-11 world.

"Very definitely there is not the privacy that we expect or anticipate or for that matter thought we had," he said.

"There is a law that allows the NSA and government agencies to look at people's phone records but there's gotta be a reason for it," said Senator Chuck Schumer.

The court order, obtained by the UK's Guardian newspaper, requires Verizon to give the National Security Agency information on all telephone calls on a daily basis regardless of whether anyone is suspected of doing any wrong doing.

"Civil liberties union is alarmed but not really surprised," said Melani Trimble with the New York Civil Liberties Union's Capital Region chapter.

She says they hope to investigate the matter further to reign in what they call unconstitutional surveillance by the government.

"To feel like you are being spied on in America just such a strange and outrageous thing for American to feel," she said.

Under the order, numbers of both the caller and person receiving the call is handed over by Verizon, along with location data, length of the call, but the contents of the conversation are not examined. Senator Chuck Schumer wants to find out more.

"If it's a fishing expedition we ought to be limiting the government as to who's records they are looking at," Schumer added.

Cutler doesn't believe wireless surveillance is going to go away anytime soon.

"I fully expect we will have an expansion of wireless surveillance," he said.

The court order for Verizon expires July 19th, 2013.

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