A new report reveals that the National Security Agency has been secretly collecting telephone records from millions of Verizon customers.

British newspaper The Guardian first broke the story of the NSA’s top-secret operation that allows the government agency to obtain call details on domestic and international calls. Through a court order authorized by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the NSA is able to collect the phone numbers of both people on a call, their location, the time of the call and how long the call lasts. The court order does not, however, allow the government to listen in on conversations nor can they collect the names and addresses of callers.

A senior White House official declined to verify the practice but tells Reuters that the operation “allows counter terrorism personnel to discover whether known or suspected terrorists have been in contact with other persons who may be engaged in terrorist activities, particularly people located inside the United States.”

While government officials defend the practice, the American Civil Liberties Union tells ABC News it is “alarming.”

“It provides further evidence of the extent to which basic democratic rights are being surrendered in secret to the demands of unaccountable intelligence agencies,” ACLU deputy legal director Jameel Jaffer said.

Where do you stand? Do you, like the ACLU find the practice disturbing and a violation of the right to privacy, or do you see it as a necessary counter-terrorism measure? Share your thoughts and comments with us below. [poll id=320541]

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