NSA Taps Directly Into Undersea Fiber-optic Data Cables

By:  Joe Wolverton, II, J.D.
07/24/2013
       
NSA Taps Directly Into Undersea Fiber-optic Data Cables

In order to conduct its massive surveillance of data, the NSA taps directly into the world's network of undersea fiber-optic cables that carry electronic communications.

Despite promises from a few federal lawmakers to hold the Obama administration and the National Security Agency (NSA) accountable for the recently revealed practice of wholesale surveillance of millions of Americans, to date, nothing has been done.

In fact, as The New American reported last week, congressional impotence is likely to let Director of National Intelligence James Clapper escape any accountability for the lies he told under oath while testifying about the scope of the domestic spying program.

Of course, as the mainstream media maintains its attention laser-locked on Edward Snowden — the former NSA contractor who leaked the documents last month — Americans recognize that neither Snowden’s whereabouts nor his love life are of the slightest importance.

What matters is that one branch of the federal government (the executive) is unconstitutionally spying on Americans, another branch of the federal government (the legislative) is refusing to check that exercise of power, and a third branch (the judicial) is rubber-stamping all requests to keep the data pipeline open.

And, as the Atlantic reports, in many cases, a pipeline is exactly what is being tapped by the NSA. Writing for the Atlantic, Olga Khazan reports:

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 amount of data being grabbed by British and American snoops is astounding. The information provided by Snowden reveals that the taps on the undersea fiber-optic cables collect around “21 million gigabytes per day.” The bulk data is then sent on to 550 NSA and British intelligence agents who will comb through and collate the material collected from the “at least 200 fiber optic cables so far.”

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