Target: U.S. Department of Justice
Goal: Prevent Verizon from being forced to hand over phone records to NSA
Following a court order, Verizon is being forced to hand over phone records of its users to the National Security Agency (NSA), giving the government “unlimited authority to obtain the data for a specified three-month period” to protect the nation from terrorist threats. The order also prohibits Verizon from disclosing to the public the existence of this court order and the transfer of records to the government. As a violation of privacy and without the consent of Verizon subscribers, the court order should be retracted and Verizon should not be forced to hand over phone records.
Although recently revealed by The Guardian, the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court granted the order on April 25, 2013. This marks the first instance of indiscriminate collection of communication records in bulk under the Obama administration. The personal phone records being handed over include the numbers of both parties on calls, location data, time and call durations, and unique identifiers. They, however, do not include the contents of the messages or personal information of phone users. Such a broad, unlimited range of records collection is abnormal since similar court orders in the past pertained to more specifically named targets.
With the boundaries between privacy and security becoming increasingly blurred, public engagement is imperative in achieving an appropriate, publicly acceptable balance. The lack of transparency and denial of disclosure impedes the legitimacy of the administration and government agencies, as well as provoke public dissent. I urge you to sign this petition to protect privacy and promote public engagement in widespread, controversial government programs.
Dear U.S. Department of Justice,
It has recently been revealed by British news organization, The Guardian, that a court order granted by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court forces Verizon to hand over phone records to the NSA. Unlike other court orders of this nature, the records being handed over are indiscriminate, in bulk, and without any specific targets. Public dissent continues to rise and action must be taken to address the widespread concern regarding the state of digital privacy.
With terrorism and cyber threats obscuring the boundary between privacy and security, public engagement is imperative to determine the appropriate balance between these values in an ethical manner. Additionally, consumers have the right to full disclosure of company policies and the sharing of information, which this court order prohibits. I urge you to review this court order and reconsider this violation of privacy.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Verizon Communications via Wikimedia Commons