Well by now everybody's heard of the "Secret" room in the San Francisco AT&T Facility.
It is alleged in the lawsuit that in 2002-2003, AT&T permitted and assisted the NSA to install a NarusInsight system in its San Francisco switching center (Room 641A), which was capable of monitoring billions of bits of Internet traffic a second, including the playback of telephone calls routed on the Internet, and thus in effect spying upon the entirety of the communication of many or all American citizens and businesses who use the Internet.Now the Atlantic has a new writeup on the extent of this type of activity called
A former AT&T engineer, Mark Klein, attested that a supercomputer built by Narus was installed for the purpose, and that similar systems were also installed in at least Seattle, San Jose, Los Angeles and San Diego. Wired News states Klein said he came forward "because he does not believe that the Bush administration is being truthful about the extent of its extrajudicial monitoring of Americans' communications":"Despite what we are hearing, and considering the public track record of this administration, I simply do not believe their claims that the NSA's spying program is really limited to foreign communications or is otherwise consistent with the NSA's charter or with FISA [...] And unlike the controversy over targeted wiretaps of individuals' phone calls, this potential spying appears to be applied wholesale to all sorts of Internet communications of countless citizens."
The operation might have ended, but for the NSA, this underwater strategy clearly stuck around.
In addition to gaining access to web companies' servers and asking for phone metadata, we've now learned that both the U.S. and the U.K. spy agencies are
tapping directly into the Internet's backbone -- the undersea fiber optic cables that shuttle online communications between countries and servers. For some privacy
activists, this process is even more worrisome than monitoring call metadata because it allows governments to make copies of everything that transverses these cables, if they wanted to.
The British surveillance programs have fittingly sinister titles: "Mastering the Internet" and "Global Telecoms Exploitation," according to The Guardian.
A subsidiary program for these operations -- Tempora -- sucks up around 21 million gigabytes per day and stores the data for a month. The data is shared with NSA, and there are reportedly 550 NSA and GCHQ analysts poring over the information they've gathered from at least 200 fiber optic
cables so far.