The U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee has confirmed that the government has been secretly collecting the telephone records of millions of U.S. customers of Verizon under a top-secret court order.
Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein told reporters in Washington that the court order, first disclosed by Britain’s "The Guardian" newspaper on June 5, was a three-month renewal of an ongoing practice.
Feinstein defended the government, saying its actions were keeping the United States "safe."
Republican Representative Mike Rogers, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said the program had been used to prevent a "significant" terrorist attack in the United States "within the last few years."
"The Guardian" reported that under a secret order granted by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, Verizon is required on a "daily basis" to provide the National Security Agency (NSA) with information -- such as numbers and location data -- on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the United States and between the United States and other countries.
Privacy advocates have blasted the order.
Separately, "The Washington Post" and "The Guardian" reported on June 6 the existence of another program used by the NSA and FBI that scours the nation's main Internet companies to help analysts track a person's movements and contacts.
Based on reporting by Reuters and AP