For the past three months, Verizon has handed over information on all telephone calls within its system to the U.S. government. This news, which broke last night thanks to a leaked court document, is a big story, but it isn't exactly a surprising one.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a group dedicated to the protection of fundamental rights online, has long suspected this kind of broad surveillance. Last summer, Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), hinted that the government has broader surveillance powers than people suspect. The agencies doing the surveillance all fall under the executive branch, but congress has the power of oversight. Last December, Congress voted to extend the act granting this broad surveillance power until at least 2017.