Locals react to NSA order for Verizon to surrender millions of phone records
El Paso, TX (KTSM) — The National Security Agency is under fire for allegedly demanding that Verizon, one of the nation's largest phone companies, hands over call records for millions of customers, so government officials can look through them.
Proponents claim it's to protect national security but not everyone is convinced.
"The thought of someone having access to your records is a little unsettling," said Robert Arellano.
Most people may make phone calls assuming their conversations are private.
But the post 9/11 Patriot Act allows the government to collect records on every phone call made in the country.
Some say what's unusual in this case is ordinary Americans, not just suspected terrorists, are being watched too.
According to a report from Britain's "Guardian" newspaper, the US government has obtained a top secret court order that requires Verizon to turn over the telephone records to the NSA on an "on-going daily basis."
"Seems like a huge invasion of privacy and it seems something that doesn't sound in line with the Constitution at all," said Chris Combatci.
Former Vice President Al Gore called the move 'obscenely outrageous.'
The content of conversations is supposedly not being monitored. The government only wants to know where calls are coming from, who receives them, the time, and the duration.
"We should be able to share what we want to share and make it available to who we want to make it available to," said Alejandro Avila.
Chris Marta on Facebook agrees. He asks 'and more people are not outraged because...?'
Local lawmakers are outraged.
US Congressman Steve Pearce called it 'a gross misuse and abuse of law' and insists 'the federal government must be held accountable for its actions.'
US Senator Martin Heinrich thinks the collection is 'deeply troubling.'
But not everyone found it alarming.
"It doesn't bother me because I have Verizon and I'm not a criminal, so to speak, or a terrorist," said Henry Villa.
According to the Guardian, the surveillance of Verizon calls began April 25th and will continue through July 19th.
Proponents say it's a program that's renewed every three months.
Verizon has declined to comment on the story. So far, no comments from the White House or NSA on this particular case.