It also means that all of this is legal. The FBI had a warrant for the records it requested from Verizon, and, rather than break the law, Verizon obliged. Not everything was turned over to the government: Phone calls themselves are well protected by legal precedent, and obtaining warrants to listen to a tremendous amount of calls is much harder. Instead, the government asked for phone call metadata, which is kept and maintained by telecommunications companies. The metadata includes the time the call took place, the call origin, the call duration, and the carrier. In cellphones, it also includes the cell towers that transmitted the call, giving a rough approximation of the callers' physical location.