In response to the unusually broad data collection order, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) in Washington filed an emergency petition with the Supreme Court seeking to overturn the order and stop the ongoing collection of domestic telephone records of millions of Americans.
Such petitions to the high court are rare, and even more rarely granted.
The once-secret order demanded that Verizon turn over to the NSA “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.”
The order does not require disclosure of the content of the phone calls. Instead it seeks routing information, including the telephone numbers making and receiving the calls, subscriber identity numbers, calling card numbers, and the time and duration of the calls.
Such metadata is used by intelligence analysts to identify patterns of behavior and networks of associates. Experts say it can reveal substantial personal information when such data is collected and analyzed over time.