The British newspaper The Guardian recently revealed that the National Security Agency has been collecting telephone records from tens of millions of U.S. Verizon customers under a secret court order.
So far, the Obama administration is not denying or confirming the order, but a senior White House administration official said in a statement the handing over of call records is "a critical tool in protecting the nation from terrorist threats."
The order, reportedly obtained 10 days after the Boston Marathon bombings, does not identify intended targets or explain why the government is casting a wide net.
It also does not allow the government to listen in on actual phone calls.
Regardless, local Verizon customers are reacting about this latest debate on privacy.
"We may have to give up some privacy for the benefit of national security," said Verizon customer Ray Shepherd.
"I have no problems with them having my records, personally," said another Verizon customer Judy Shepherd.
"I'm not a terrorist. I don't know why they would need my phone records," said Michael Woolery, another customer.
Several Tennessee lawmakers also weighed in on the heated debate.
Rep. Jim Cooper, D-TN 5th District, said, "I was shocked to see the wholesale level of eavesdropping. Congress had not been briefed on this program. I intend to find out the justification, if any, for such massive monitoring."
Republican Senator Bob Corker simply wants an explanation from the president.
"There may be some good explanation for this, but certainly I've asked the president to be forth coming with that so that we all understand publicly why it's being carried out in this way."
Officals also say that it is more than just Verizon, that there are similar secret orders for the records of all U.S. phone companies.