TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: NSA Has Massive Database of Americans' Phone Calls

NSA Has Massive Database of Americans' Phone Calls

Monty Solomon (
Sat, 13 May 2006 18:34:40 -0400

By Leslie Cauley, USA TODAY

The National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone
call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by
AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth, people with direct knowledge of the
arrangement told USA TODAY.

The NSA program reaches into homes and businesses across the nation by
amassing information about the calls of ordinary Americans - most of
whom aren't suspected of any crime. This program does not involve the
NSA listening to or recording conversations. But the spy agency is
using the data to analyze calling patterns in an effort to detect
terrorist activity, sources said in separate interviews.

"It's the largest database ever assembled in the world," said one
person, who, like the others who agreed to talk about the NSA's
activities, declined to be identified by name or affiliation. The
agency's goal is "to create a database of every call ever made" within
the nation's borders, this person added.

For the customers of these companies, it means that the government has
detailed records of calls they made -- across town or across the
country -- to family members, co-workers, business contacts and others.

The three telecommunications companies are working under contract with
the NSA, which launched the program in 2001 shortly after the Sept. 11
terrorist attacks, the sources said. The program is aimed at
identifying and tracking suspected terrorists, they said.

The sources would talk only under a guarantee of anonymity because the
NSA program is secret.

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