On December 16, 2005, the New York Times reported that, under White House pressure and with an executive order from President George W. Bush, the National Security Agency, in an attempt to thwart terrorism, had been tapping phone calls made to persons outside the country, without obtaining warrants from the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, a secret court created for that purpose under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
In May 2006, Mark Klein, a former AT&T employee, alleged that his company had cooperated with NSA in installing Narus (company) hardware to replace the FBI Carnivore program, to monitor network communications including traffic between American citizens.
In 2009 the NSA intercepted the communications of American citizens, including a congressman, although the Justice Department believed that the NSA had corrected its errors. Attorney General Eric Holder resumed the wiretapping according to his understanding of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act amendment of 2008, without explaining what had occurred.
On April 25, 2013, the NSA obtained a court order requiring Verizon’s Business Network Services to provide information on all calls in its system to the NSA “on an ongoing daily basis”, as reported by Britain’s The Guardian newspaper.
NSA is reported to use its computing capability to analyze “transactional” data that it regularly acquires from other government agencies, which gather it under their own jurisdictional authorities. As part of this effort, NSA now monitors huge volumes of records of domestic e-mails and Internet searches as well as bank transfers, credit-card transactions and travel and telephone records, according to current and former intelligence officials interviewed by the Wall Street Journal.
The NSA began the PRISM electronic surveillance and data mining program in 2007. PRISM gathers communications data on foreign targets from nine major U.S. internet based communication service providers: Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube and Apple. Data gathered include email, video and voice chat, videos, photos, voice-over-IP chats such as Skype, and file transfers.