The White House on Thursday defended the National Security Agency's need to collect telephone records of U.S. citizens, calling such information "a critical tool in protecting the nation from terrorist threats."

Attorney General Eric Holder testifies during a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Now it looks like they could end up paying for that protection as a Philadelphia couple and an activist attorney have filed a class-action lawsuit in Federal Court in Washington DC over the National Security Agency's collection of Verizon customers' records.

The suit, filed by activist lawyer Larry Klayman, the founder of Judicial Watch and a former federal prosecutor, and Charles and Mary Ann Strange, Philadelphia residents and the parents of Navy SEAL Michael Strange, who was killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan in 2011,contends that the NSA's surveillance violates Verizon users' "reasonable expectation of privacy, free speech and association, right to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures, and due process rights.

The defendants in the suit are President Barack Obama; the Department of Justice and Attorney General Eric Holder; the NSA and its director, Keith Alexander; Verizon and its chief executive, Lowell McAdam; and Roger Vinson, the judge who signed the secret order.

The Justice Department declined to comment on the suit. Verizon spokesman Raymond McConville, who said he was speaking only for Verizon, said in an email that the "case is without merit."

The suit was filed on Friday and became a class-action on Monday. The lawsuit says it believes its class includes more than 100 million people. The parties are seeking $3 billion in damages, a cease and desist order to prohibit the surveillance activity, the expungement of the phone records collected, more disclosure about the programs and for authorities to take up Vinson's alleged misconduct.  Should we be suing the Government for trying to protect us?