Last week, top-secret federal documents were leaked to newspapers worldwide detailing a sweeping surveillance program overseen by the NSA under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
On Friday, the White House defended the program, saying that its reach has been “hyped” by the media, and it had proved an effective means of stopping terrorist attacks against the U.S.
But civil libertarians say the moves are an overreach and have vowed to try to block the NSA’s programs.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said on Sunday that he may consider a U.S. Supreme Court challenge to the NSA's surveillance activity.
Paul also introduced legislation on Friday that would make the unabated collection of Americans’ phone records illegal. Federal law enforcement officials would need to get a warrant, with probable cause, in order to obtain them.
In the leaked reports, it was revealed that the phone records of millions of Americans had been collected. Although the content of those conversations is not viewed by federal law enforcement, the phone numbers, frequency and duration of calls can be tracked.
Internet activity of Americans cannot be tracked, officials have said, saying that the top-secret PRISM program is only able to target foreign individuals.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said Saturday that Internet companies only released information after given orders from a secret FISA court, which only approve cases if there is a "foreign intelligence purpose" and the target is "reasonably believed" to be outside of the United States.