Verizon ordered to turn over domestic records

On 4-25-2013 The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) ordered Verizon to turn over on a daily basis:

“… all call detail records or “telephony metadata” created by Verizon for communications (i) between the United States and abroad; or (ii) wholly within the United States, including local telephone calls.” (emphasis added) (BR 13-80 Secondary Order, p. 2).

What is “telephony metadata”? For the purpose of this court order it is defined as:

“…includes comprehensive communications routing information, including but not limited to session identifying information (e.g., originating and terminating telephone number, International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) number, International Mobile station Equipment Identity (IMEI) number, etc.), trunk identifier, telephone calling card numbers, and time and duration of call.” (Id.)

Though this order seems to have been requested by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI); the order itself hints that the National Security Agency (NSA) was also involved:

“IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that no person shall disclose to any other person that the FBI or NSA has sought or obtained tangible things under this Order…” (Id.)


Yahoo! ordered to turn over user; but it’s ok the government has safety procedures in place

According to this document Yahoo! tried (but failed) to appeal an order to turn over user account data. Part of the basis the court gave for denying their appeal was:

It is also significant that effective minimization procedures are in place. These procedures serve as an additional backstop against identification errors as well as a means of reducing the impact of incidental intrusions into the privacy of non-targeted United States persons(In Re: Directive To Yahoo! Inc. Pursuant to Section 105B of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. p 29-30)

The government assures us that it does not maintain a database of incidentally collected information from non-targeted United States person and there is no evidence to the contrary. (Id. p. 30)


FISA Court documents reveal NSA has massive metadata database that the FBI is able to access.

“…[t]o be able to exploit metadata fully, the data must be collected in bulk …. The ability to accumulate a metadata archive and set it aside for carefully controlled searches and analysis will substantially increase NSA’s ability to detect and identify members of” (In Re Production of Tangible Things From [Redacted] BR 08-13, p. 2)

” Because the collection would result in NSA collecting call detail records pertaining to of telephone communications, including call detail records pertaining to communications of United States (“U.S.”) persons located within the U.S. who are not the subject of any FBI investigation and whose metadata could not otherwise be legally captured in bulk, the government proposed stringent minimization procedures…” (Id. p.2) (all emphasis added)


FISA Court documents reveal government has mislead the court.

“In response to a Preliminary Notice of Compliance Incident dated January 15, 2009, this Court ordered further briefing on the non-compliance incident…” (In Re Production of Tangible Things From [Redacted] BR 08-13, p. 3)

The court defines those who are approved  to identify if reasonable articulable suspicion (RAS) standard has been met as: RAS-approved identifiers.

“..since the earliest days of the FISC-authorized collection of call-detail records by the NSA, the NSA has on a daily basis, accessed the BR metadata for purposes of comparing thousands of non-[reasonable articulable suspicion] approved telephone identifiers on its alert list against the BR metadata in order to identify any matches.” (Id. p. 3-4)

“The government has compounded its non-compliance with the Court’s orders by repeatedly submitting inaccurate descriptions of the alert list process to the FISC.” (Id. p. 6)

“Unfortunately, the universe of compliance matters that have arisen under the Court’s Orders for this business records collection extends beyond the events described above. On October 17, 2008, the government reported to the FISC that, after the FISC authorized the NSA to increase the number of analysts authorized to access the BR metadata to 85, the NSA trained those newly authorized analysts on Court-ordered procedures. Sixty-Day Report for Filing in Docket Number BR 08-08, filed Oct. 17, 2008 at 7. Despite this training, however, the NSA subsequently determined that 31 NSA analysts had queried the BR metadata during a five day period in April 2008 “without being aware they were doing so.” Id. (emphasis added).” (Id. p. 9)

“In summary, since January 15, 2009, it has finally come to light that the FISC’s
authorizations of this vast collection program have been premised on a flawed depiction of how the NSA uses BR metadata.” (emphasis added; Id. p. 10-11)

“The minimization procedures proposed by the government in each successive application and approved and adopted as binding by the orders of the FISC have been so frequently and systemically violated that it can fairly be said that this critical element of the overall BR regime has never functioned effectively.” (Id. p. 11)