A composite photo of former President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama, George W. Obama, is making waves on the Internet after the Huffington Post used it on its front page.
The daily used this morphed image along with an article about the National Security Agency, or NSA, asking Verizon to share its phone calling records. The photo criticizes Obama for continuing a practice that was started by the Bush administration and which has continued through Obama’s two terms.
“NSA has been doing all this stuff all along, and it’s been all these companies, not just one,” William Binney, a former NSA employee told news program Democracy Now on Thursday. “They’re just continuing the collection of this data on all U.S. citizens.”
Binney worked at the NSA for close to 40 years before leaving the agency and turning a whistleblower because he objected to spying on the U.S. citizens.
The Bush administration brought in these policies following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and Binney estimates that the government has over 12 trillion phone records in their database today.
“From just one company alone, that I knew of, they were getting over 300 million call records a day on U.S. citizens. So, I mean, and when you add the rest of the companies in, my estimate was that there were probably three billion phone records collected every day on U.S. citizens. So, over time, that’s a little over 12 trillion in their databases since 9/11,” he said.
Three of the largest phone companies in the U.S. -- Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile, declined to comment on the matter when the Huffington Post contacted them.
Besides these network providers, the NSA has also been targeting technology companies -- Facebook, Google, Apple and Microsoft -- to obtain data, thereby helping them track a person’s activities and contacts, the Guardian reported.
Microsoft was the first to join the information-sharing program in 2007 when it was first introduced. Yahoo followed suit in 2008 followed by Google, Facebook and PalTalk in 2009.
While YouTube joined in 2010, Skype and AOL enlisted in 2011, and Apple in 2012, the Guardian report said, adding that the program is set to expand and more Internet giants will be roped in.
Keerthi Mohan is an IBTimes reporter covering entertainment and human interest stories.