Rutherford: NSA’s Dip into Phone Records 'Frightening' - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Rutherford: NSA’s Dip into Phone Records 'Frightening'

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If you are a Verizon customer chances are your conversations over the last couple of months are not as private as you may have thought. 

Millions of Verizon customers' most private conversations are now in the hands of the government. A secret court order requires Verizon to turn over private phone records to the National Security Agency. Many are upset, saying it violates our civil rights. 

While some say it's vital to national security, the Rutherford Institute, a Charlottesville civil rights watch group, believes the NSA's dip into personal phone records is a violation, calling it "frightening." 

"It's called the rule of law," said John Whitehead, the institute's president. "The Fourth Amendment says before the government does surveillance on Americans it has to have probable cause." 

The order says Verizon must on a daily basis provide the NSA with phone records - phone records of everyday American citizens.

"A national security agency was set up to deal with foreign communications and now they've imploded internally and what it means is that we're all suspects," Whitehead said. 

Former Vice President Al Gore tweeted, "In a digital era, privacy must be a priority. Is it just me, or is secret blanket surveillance obscenely outrageous?" 

But then there are some who say they have nothing to hide. 

Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina has said, "I'm a Verizon customer. It doesn't bother me one bit for the national security administration to have my  phone number because what they're trying to do is find out what terrorist groups we know about and who the hell they're calling." 

Whitehead says there is only one way to put an end to all of this. 

"The only place it would stop is if Congress would push the lobbyists out of their office and get some comprehensive legislation to protect us against this because it does violate our constitution," he said. 

If the NSA were to find something incriminating in these phone records, it is unclear whether that would hold up in court. 

Whitehead says it violates the Fourth Amendment and it is something the Rutherford Institute would challenge.

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