June 7, 2013 – The Obama administration confirmed the existence of a classified U.S. government program that gathers data on foreign nationals from Internet companies, defending the effort as legally authorized and essential to thwarting terrorist attacks.

The disclosure last night came a day after reports emerged of a secret court order compelling Verizon Communications Inc. to provide the National Security Agency with data on all its customers’ calls. While the revelations stirred outrage among privacy-rights advocates, U.S. lawmakers from both parties acknowledged earlier yesterday that they were aware of the Verizon order and backed the collection of telephone records as necessary to combating terrorism.

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