Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Biggest Spy Center on Earth: Let's Hope They Don't Use the Latest Snoop Technology!

While most Americans have been caught up in the "culture wars", or the hot-button political issues as we head into the Nov. 6 election, others  - mainly in deep politics- are keeping a wary eye on the ever increasing expansion of the national security state. Some (e.g. 'WIRED' magazine in its article 'The Black Box', April, p. 78)) have insinuated we are already witness to a mammoth 'Matrix' that may yet entrap us all. But others hold out hope this is merely excessive pessimism.

The 'WIRED" piece, probably to the consternation of the National Security Agency (NSA) and all other related spooks, "leaked" the news that a gigantic, $2b, 1 million square foot "data clearing center" will be built in the shadow of Utah's Wasatch Range to the east of the Oquirrh Mountains, right smack in the middle of Mormon 'nation'.  But make no mistake, this massive "Utah Data Center" will not be there to learn more about Joseph Smith or to ferret out Mormon polygamists.  Its mission rather is to keep an eye on the digital doings of  325 million Americans, as it parses and analyzes twitter messages, cell phone communications, contents of "private" emails, not to mention travel itineraries, bookstore purchases, online porno views or downloads, Kindle or Nook downloads and even parking lot receipts.

In other words, this massive "data center' won't be just that but rather a monumental snoop center to identify what every person in the US of A is doing electronically every waking second, at least as far as their actual activites - mostly digital- go. As WIRED also notes (p. 80):

"The mammoth Bluffdale Center will have another important and far more secret role that until now has gone unrevealed. It is also critical for breaking codes. And code-breaking is crucial because of the data that the center will handle: financial information, stock transactions, business deals, foreign military and diplomatic secrets, confidential personal communications, legal documents and anything else initially heavily encrypted."

According to one official quoted in the WIRED piece:

"Everyone's a target, everybody with communications is a target."

Got nude, drunk or other compromising photos of yourself on a Facebook page? The NSA Bluffdale center will be able to snatch all that content in a nanosecond, along with that from millions of others. Got compromising emails? They'll snatch all those too on a different data stream. Into "sexting" with your cell phone, or your kid is? Watch out or the instagrams will be forever archived in the Bluffdale center, and doubtless 'etched' into the memory engrams of dozens of spooks.

Get this too: Given the facility's scale storing a terabyte will be no biggie and the operators will be able to put that "into a flash drive" (op. cit. p. 82). No, people, we are talking about aspiring to the rarefied  "yottabytes" scale or 1024  bytes of data stored. The facilitators insist they'll need such capacity given that internet traffic is estimated to quadruple by 2015  as measured from 2010. (After all, 2 billion of the planet's 6.9 billion were connected to the net in 2011.)

Obviously, with such enormous digital capacity needs - and hence the volume of processing demands- a comparable power station is needed. No surprise then that Rocky Mountain Power is building a special substation to handle the 65  MW (megawatt)  demand at a cost of $40 million a year. Your tax dollars at work.

But fear not, fellow netsters! The sources cited in the article claim not to be overly concerned with your cell conversations, emails, or tweets! Or your Facebook pages or blogs. (Well, maybe mine!) The spooks indicate they are far more interested in what they call  "the deep web" bearing sites beyond the reach of the public at large. These include (p. 83): "password protected data, U.S. and foreign government communications, and non-commercial file sharing between trusted peers."

My concern, however, is that the new center is tempted to use a newfangled technology evidently developed in the UK. Apparently, the device in question (about the size of a suitcase), can be used to actually spy on people inside buildings. It apparently works as a "passive radar system", able to "see through walls" and can even "determine location, speed and direction of a person behind a one foot thick brick wall". (Note: I imagine the device more radically miniaturized by Sept. 2013, when the Bluffdale center comes onstream. Coincidentally, more than 15,000 drones will also be plowing through the skies by then, thanks to our whore congress critters, and who knows? Many of the more compact 'spy' drones may be fitted with such devices which will grab data on us as they flit outside or above our homes or neighborhoods. Paranoid? Maybe, maybe not!)

Is this thing for real? Well one site reports that it surely is.

Let's just hope the new NSA facility sticks mostly to "deep net" traffic and doesn't go the route of also compiling "data" of what people are doing inside their own homes.

"But hey, if ya got nuthin' to hide ya got nuthin' to worry about!"

Maybe, but then some of us still believe the 4th amendment to the Bill of Rights means more than the paper it was written on!

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