Former top NSA mathematician and code breaker, William Binney, has gone on record to publicly reveal the scope of a top-secret surveillance program called Stellar Wind which led to his resignation in 2001. It is a program that has directly targeted everyday Americans following 9/11.
The problem, to this point, has been how to centralize and sift through the massive amount of information collected. The U.S. government, however, has already stated its desire to seek new ways to manage this “big data”, ensuring that widespread data collection can continue.The NSA is set to complete its $2 billion fortress of domestic surveillance by September 2013 that indicates one step toward big data management. It can store 100 years worth of electronic information. But this data collection initiative is not only within the walls of the NSA; it is taking place across the board in our largest federal agencies and departments such as the National Institutes of Health, Department of Defense, National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, the U.S. Geological survey, and DARPA.
The Obama administration through the Office of Science and Technology Policy has announced a $200 million investment in taking this information “from data to decisions.” This scientific and national defense endeavor is all-encompassing, as it seeks data input and sharing between government and private companies, such as Amazon, as well as public universities. (Source, PDF)
When Binney spoke to Wired in an article by James Bamford, he explained that the NSA could have focused only on international communications;
Instead it chose to put the wiretapping rooms at key junction points throughout the country—large, windowless buildings known as switches—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. ‘That’s not just San Francisco; they have them in the middle of the country and also on the East Coast.’ (Source)
The new NSA facility at Bluffdale, Utah, will have the capability to spy “on every single form of communication, ranging from the entirety of private emails, cell phone calls, Google searches and other Internet activity, to data on travel, parking receipts, purchases at bookstores, and anything and everything they can get their hands on.” (Source)
However, rather than feel paranoid or try to hide from the runaway train of surveillance and the increasing number of lists we’re all on, Binney offers a piece of sage advice that we all would do well to adopt:
RT: Were you on the target list?
WB: Oh, sure! I believe I’ve been on it for quite a few years. So I keep telling them everything I think of them in my e-mail. So that when they want to read it they’ll understand what I think of them.