We've noted repeatedly how privacy technology discussions often have a bizarre and amusing lack of context, the press getting borderline hysterical about every NebuAD
scandal, while all-but ignoring that carriers and the government buy, sell and trade all user information daily with a total disregard (and often disdain) for law. Your iPhone tells Apple you went to Costco? Unified outrage. Carriers and the government monitor everything you do constantly? Dull chirping.
Time and time again we've seen folks come forward with evidence of carriers like AT&T, Sprint and Verizon simply dumping all live traffic in the government's lap
in violation of law (which the government simply had changed when they were caught). AT&T employee Mark Klein gave evidence of this
, and a slew of NSA whistleblowers have also since confirmed it repeatedly. Speaking with CNN last week, former FBI counterterrorism agent Tim Clemente again reiterated that all U.S. communications are tapped, and stored, all of the time
BURNETT: Tim, is there any way, obviously, there is a voice mail they can try to get the phone companies to give that up at this point. It's not a voice mail. It's just a conversation. There's no way they actually can find out what happened, right, unless she tells them?
CLEMENTE: "No, there is a way. We certainly have ways in national security investigations to find out exactly what was said in that conversation. It's not necessarily something that the FBI is going to want to present in court, but it may help lead the investigation and/or lead to questioning of her. We certainly can find that out.
BURNETT: "So they can actually get that? People are saying, look, that is incredible.
CLEMENTE: "No, welcome to America. All of that stuff is being captured as we speak whether we know it or like it or not."
The problem hasn't traditionally been tapping these lines, since companies like AT&T, Verizon and Sprint have been more than happy to oblige, usually for a fee. The problem for intelligence and law enforcement has been storing and sorting through these oceans of data, which is why the NSA is building a new $2 billion supercomputer warehouse in Bluffdale, Utah. The project was exposed by Wired
last year, and is expected to provide the government with 25,000 square feet of traffic analysis computing power.