Q:

Does the government listen in on cellphone conversations?

A:

Quick Answer

As of 2015, President Obama, Congress and some members of the media claim there are safeguards and oversight that exist to prevent such spying. The Guardian, however, claims to have documents that it believes proves cellphone calls can be listened to by the U.S. government.

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Full Answer

In a CNN interview regarding the Boston Marathon bombing, former FBI counterterrorism agent Tim Clemente said the FBI can listen to past phone conversations like that of conversations between one of the bombers and his wife Katherine Russell; this is not limited to just voicemail. Clemente's response to the reporter's questioning was, "Welcome to America. All of that stuff [phone conversations] is being captured as we speak whether we know it or like it or not." However, capturing is not the same as listening.

While some argue that the government's procedures regarding the capture of information are not constitutional, it remains unclear how much the NSA is doing with the data they capture. Government promises regarding the surveillance of the NSA are not protecting anyone's conversations from being captured by what Business Insider calls a "warrantless scheme," but this does not mean that the government listens to cellphone conversations.

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