NSA, FBI sifting through millions of phone, internet records - Fox 2 News Headlines

NSA, FBI sifting through millions of phone, internet records

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Washington, D.C. (FOX 32 News and the Associated Press) -

The FBI and National Security Agency are looking at photos, videos, emails and other documents on YouTube, Google, Yahoo!, Facebook, Microsoft Hotmail and Skype, without telling the public.

That's according to a new report in the Washington Post. The revelations come on top of news that for the past seven years, the government has been tracking millions of calls to and from Verizon customers.

The Washington Post said that the internet tracking was part of a classified program called PRISM, which was established in 2007.

The Post said that the PRISM program is similar to the "most controversial of the warrantless surveillance orders issued by President George W. Bush after the al-Qaeda attacks of Sept. 11, 2001."

The Post reported that the internet companies denied cooperating with the PRISM program.

Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein said the phone call tracking is part of the effort to protect against terrorist attacks, and that federal judges help protect privacy rights. And Republican congressman Mike Rogers of Michigan says the search of phone records had, in fact, prevented a terror attack in recent years.
 
But others in both parties say it's a huge over-reach for the government to have millions of phone records checked. Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders calls it "indefensible and unacceptable."
 
Former Vice President Al Gore tweeted that privacy is essential in the digital era. He wrote, "Is it just me, or is secret blanket surveillance obscenely outrageous?"
 
White House spokesman Josh Earnest says the court order allows the intelligence community to know when terrorists or suspected terrorists are engaging in dangerous activities. He says that's particularly true for people located in the U.S. He says the order doesn't allow the government to listen in on calls.

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