Sen. Wyden denounces bulk phone record collection

In this Dec. 8, 2005, file photo, a man walks out the Verizon's new corporate headquarters.The Obama administration on Thursday, June 6, 2013, defended the government's need to collect telephone records of American citizens, calling such information "a critical tool in protecting the nation from terrorist threats." Britain's Guardian newspaper reported that the NSA has been collecting the telephone records of millions of Verizon customers under a top secret court order. (AP Photo/Dima Gavrysh, File)
In this Dec. 8, 2005, file photo, a man walks out the Verizon's new corporate headquarters.The Obama administration on Thursday, June 6, 2013, defended the government's need to collect telephone records of American citizens, calling such information "a critical tool in protecting the nation from terrorist threats." Britain's Guardian newspaper reported that the NSA has been collecting the telephone records of millions of Verizon customers under a top secret court order. (AP Photo/Dima Gavrysh, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — A senator who has been instrumental in the fight for open government is warning Americans their privacy is at risk because the government collects phone records in bulk.

Sen. Ron Wyden spoke out against what he calls the “vacuuming of private information” during a speech Wednesday before the American Society of News Editors.

He said, “I have to believe the civil liberties of millions of Americans have been violated.”

Wyden said that while the bulk information collected by the National Security Agency involves phone numbers, location and time of the call, it might also contain vital personal details, such as relationships, medical issues, religious matters or political affiliations.

ASNE honored Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, for opposing legislation that would restrict the flow of news on foreign affairs and national security.

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