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US government collects Verizon customers' phone metadata ... So what?

Mark Gibbs | June 9, 2013
A top secret NSA program to collect ALL Verizon customers' call data isn't at all surprising.

To see a prime example of the NSA's building boom you should go to Utah where that spy center is located. Just travel north on Interstate15 through Provo (waving to Novell as you pass) heading towards Salt Lake City, you'll come to the city of American Fork. Take Exit 278 for Main Street and at the end of the ramp turn left on the 145 and when you get to Redwood Road, take a right. There on the left, about 4 miles up the road, you'll see a huge building project underway. What you're looking at is the NSA's top secret Utah Data Center in Bluffdale (you can also see it from the I15 ... it's massive).

The Utah Data Center, according to Wikipedia, will be between 1 million and 1.5 million square feet (this depends on who you believe) and will cost between $1.5 billion and $2 billion when finished in September 2013. Also, "[one] report suggested that it will cost another $2 billion for hardware, software, and maintenance. The completed facility is expected to have a power demand of 65 megawatts, costing about $40 million per year."

The Wired article claims the Utah Data Center will have four computer halls of 25,000 square feet each (that's just under five  American football fields apiece). You can get a lot of supercomputers and a biblical amount of storage in that much space, which they'll need because, according to William Binney, a retired senior NSA crypto-mathematician interviewed in the Wired article, the agency has intercepted between 15 and 20 trillion communications in the last 11 years and it plans to capture even more with next to no front-end filtering.

So, what is the point of a top secret FISA order for collecting a mere three months' worth of data if the NSA has top secret intercept stations in every service provider and has secretly been collecting intelligence data on a massive scale for over a decade?

I wonder if this top secret order could be just the tip of a top secret bureaucratic iceberg of top secret orders that include all of the service providers and also covers the calendar in nice, bite-sized, top secret, three month chunks? I wouldn't be surprised, would you?


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