A stunning revelation this week about consumer privacy: the federal government has obtained a secret order from a secret court to obtain "telephony metadata" -- i.e. who's called whom when and for how long -- for all Verizon calls made to or within the United States.
The Washington Post story quotes an anonymous expert as suggesting that such orders have been issued routinely by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court since 2006, and are not connected with any particular investigation. No probable cause is required.
Check out a copy of the order itself, available here from the Guardian. As the Guardian's coverage notes, "It is not known whether Verizon is the only cell-phone provider to be targeted with such an order, although previous reporting has suggested the NSA has collected cell records from all major mobile networks."
This is a frightening development for consumer privacy and a disappointment from the administration of a president who as a candidate promised reform on wiretapping and civil liberties. (Here's some helpful background from Politifact on President Obama's promises and the renewal of the Patriot Act.)