Came across an interesting article that should be a wake-up call to anyone about the government taking away our freedom to privacy.
This is just an excerpt. You can read the full long article from the click able link at the end.
In related news, Wired Magazine recently reported that the US government is building a massive spy center, right in the heart of Mormon country, in Bluffdale, Utah4--so massive, in fact, that once finished, the facility will be five times larger than the US Capitol.
According to Wired Magazine:
"Under construction by contractors with top-secret clearances, the blandly named Utah Data Center is being built for the National Security Agency. A project of immense secrecy, it is the final piece in a complex puzzle assembled over the past decade. Its purpose: to intercept, decipher, analyze, and store vast swaths of the world's communications as they zap down from satellites and zip through the underground and undersea cables of international, foreign, and domestic networks. The heavily fortified $2 billion center should be up and running in September 2013.
Flowing through its servers and routers and stored in near-bottomless databases will be all forms of communication, including the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls, and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails—parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases, and other digital "pocket litter." It is, in some measure, the realization of the "total information awareness" program created during the first term of the Bush administration—an effort that was killed by Congress in 2003 after it caused an outcry over its potential for invading Americans' privacy.
But "this is more than just a data center," says one senior intelligence official who until recently was involved with the program. The mammoth Bluffdale center will have another important and far more secret role that until now has gone unrevealed. It is also critical, he says, for breaking codes.
And code-breaking is crucial, because much of the data that the center will handle—financial information, stock transactions, business deals, foreign military and diplomatic secrets, legal documents, confidential personal communications—will be heavily encrypted. According to another top official also involved with the program, the NSA made an enormous breakthrough several years ago in its ability to cryptanalyze, or break, unfathomably complex encryption systems employed by not only governments around the world but also many average computer users in the US.
The upshot, according to this official: "Everybody's a target; everybody with communication is a target."[Emphasis mine]
That about says it all. And for those of you still under the mistaken belief that the US government does not have the authority to spy on its citizens, consider the following:
"... [The NSA] has undergone the largest building boom in its history, including installing secret electronic monitoring rooms in major US telecom facilities. Controlled by the NSA, these highly secured spaces are where the agency taps into the US communications networks, a practice that came to light during the Bush years but was never acknowledged by the agency. The broad outlines of the so-called warrantless-wiretapping program have long been exposed...
In the wake of the program's exposure, Congress passed the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which largely made the practices legal. Telecoms that had agreed to participate in the illegal activity were granted immunity from prosecution and lawsuits. What wasn't revealed until now, however, was the enormity of this ongoing domestic spying program.
For the first time, a former NSA official has gone on the record to describe the program, codenamed Stellar Wind, in detail...
As chief and one of the two cofounders of the agency's Signals Intelligence Automation Research Center, [William] Binney and his team designed much of the infrastructure that's still likely used to intercept international and foreign communications. He explains that the agency could have installed its tapping gear at the nation's cable landing stations—the more than two dozen sites on the periphery of the US where fiber-optic cables come ashore.
If it had taken that route, the NSA would have been able to limit its eavesdropping to just international communications, which at the time was all that was allowed under US law.
Instead it chose to put the wiretapping rooms at key junction points throughout the country... thus gaining access to not just international communications but also to most of the domestic traffic flowing through the US. The network of intercept stations goes far beyond the single room in an AT&T building in San Francisco exposed by a whistle-blower in 2006. "I think there's 10 to 20 of them," Binney says... The eavesdropping on Americans doesn't stop at the telecom switches. To capture satellite communications in and out of the US, the agency also monitors AT&T's powerful earth stations...
... Binney suggested a system for monitoring people's communications according to how closely they are connected to an initial target. The further away from the target—say you're just an acquaintance of a friend of the target—the less the surveillance. But the agency rejected the idea, and, given the massive new storage facility in Utah, Binney suspects that it now simply collects everything..."
To learn more, I highly recommend reading the featured Wired article5 in its entirety. It's a fascinating read, but it will not likely make you sleep better at night. The full article is available on their website and is free to view.