The Most Sophisticated Internet Surveillance In the World



While China is often singled out for its Internet surveillance capabilities, new whistleblower evidence indicates that China’s Internet surveillance pales in comparison to the United States’ surveillance regime. The latest information reveals that AT&T implemented a sophisticated monitoring and data mining program convering both Internet and telephone communications when asked by the NSA, although the roots of the program appear to be an outgrowth of the Defense Department’s Total Information Awareness (TIA) program. The USA’s extensive system is able to monitor traffic on essentially the entire Internet due to AT&T’s peering links with other major backbone providers:

Another Cut-In and Test Procedure document dated January 24, 2003, provides diagrams of how AT&T Core Network circuits were to be run through the “splitter” cabinet. One page lists the circuit IDs of key Peering Links which were “cut-in” in February 2003, including ConXion, Verio, XO, Genuity, Qwest, PAIX, Allegiance, AboveNet, Global Crossing, C&W, UUNET, Level 3, Sprint, Telia, PSINet and Mae West. By the way, Mae West is one of two key internet nodal points in the United States (the other, Mae East, is in Vienna, Virginia). It’s not just WorldNet customers who are being spied on — it’s the entire internet.

The program covers Internet and telephone communications. The EFF has filed suit against AT&T:

The lawsuit alleges that AT&T Corp. has opened its key telecommunications facilities and databases to direct access by the NSA and/or other government agencies, thereby disclosing to the government the contents of its customers’ communications as well as detailed communications records about millions of its customers, including the lawsuit’s class members.

The lawsuit also alleges that AT&T has given the government unfettered access to its over 300 terabyte “Daytona” database of caller information—one of the largest databases in the world. Moreover, by opening its network and databases to wholesale surveillance by the NSA, EFF alleges that AT&T has violated the privacy of its customers and the people they call and email, as well as broken longstanding communications privacy laws.

The US Government’s “Internet Police” (I wonder if there are “30,000” of them?) monitor communications in “real-time” from “secret rooms” located in AT&T buildings:

The normal work force of unionized technicians in the office are forbidden to enter the “secret room,” which has a special combination lock on the main door. The telltale sign of an illicit government spy operation is the fact that only people with security clearance from the National Security Agency can enter this room.

The combination of the technical sophistication of the system and the illegal way in which it has been implemented confirms what many have suspected: the electronic surveillance regime of the US is far more extensive and sophisticated than any other country in the world.

One comment.

  1. […] This may be helpful. The National Security Agency, with the helpful assistance of major phone companies, is aggregating data about our phone calls to try to discern patterns that indicate terrorist behavior. The Administration wants ISPs to retain data about consumers’ Internet usage to combat child pornography. (Note that Bill, Ed Felten, and Nart among others have raised serious concerns about false positives and other flaws.) I can download operating systems, music, and books for little or no cost. […]

Post a comment.