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Local politicians, residents weigh in on Verizon controversy

Published On: Jun 06 2013 05:38:04 PM CDT
Updated On: Jun 06 2013 05:50:33 PM CDT

Politicians, residents, talk about Verizon data collection

ALLENTOWN, Pa. -

Got a cell phone? The government could have your number.

A top secret court order that allows the U.S. government to collect cell phone data from tens of millions of Verizon customers.. has been uncovered by a British newspaper.

Now some are questioning does the Patriot Act give the government too much power?

According to British newspaper, The Guardian a top secret court order issued April 25th gave the National Security Agency the green light to collect data from  121 million Verizon customer accounts until July 16th.

The Guardian reports the court order allows the collection of phone numbers as well as the time and duration of all calls.

The actual content of the call is  excluded.

"I don't think that's right. It's against our rights really," said Lehigh Valley resident Dale Flores.

It's a revelation that's made a lot of U.S. citizens angry.

"It's intrusive. It's annoying. I don't know what the government is planning, but it's frightening," said resident John Weber.

The NSA was able to get the information under section 215 of the Patriot Act..put in place after 9-11 to help counter terrorism efforts.

While 215 has led to the arrest of several terror suspects, the ACLU is calling this incident  "beyond Orwellian."

ACLU Legislative Counsel Michelle Richardson, says, "Now that this unconstitutional surveillance effort has been revealed, the government should end it and disclose its full scope, and Congress should initiate a full investigation." 

Senator Bob Casey says the debate of how to balance citizen privacy and national security has been ongoing for years.

"The one question that I think a lot of folks have is how the administration is interpreting one part of the patriot act the so called 215 provision," said Casey.

 Congressman Charlie Dent says while the Patriot act has been a powerful tool in keeping our nation safe. Dent thinks there should be an investigation.

"Just understand exactly what the national security agency was doing here, what records were being viewed and why," said Dent.

White House spokesman says the court order allows the intelligence community to know when terrorists or suspected terrorists are engaging in dangerous activities.

But the spokesman hasn't said anything about why Verizon customers were targeted.