Governments around the world are repeatedly accused of spying on both domestic and foreign individuals and groups that may threaten the interests of their citizens; sometimes these accusations are without merit and sometimes they pan out. William Binney, a former official with the National Security Agency, recently said that domestic surveillance in the U.S. has increased under President Obama, and trillions of phone calls, emails and other messages sent by U.S. citizens have been intercepted by the government. In fact, in an interview with Democracy Now, the official-turned-whistleblower claims that the government currently possesses copies of almost all emails sent and received in the United States.
Binney, who is regarded as one of the best mathematicians and code breakers in NSA history, says he left the agency in late 2001 after he learned about its plan to use the September 11th terrorist attacks as an excuse to launch a controversial data collection program on its own citizens. One commercial company he claims to have participated in the program is AT&T (T), which he says handed over more than 320 million records of citizen-to-citizen communications that took place within the U.S.
The program, which Binney says he helped create, was never meant for domestic surveillance but the agency has supposedly been spying on U.S. citizens for more than a decade now.
According to Binney, once the software intercepts a transmission it will then build profiles on every person referenced in the data. The NSA is now in the process of building a $2 billion data storage facility in Utah that is bigger than anything Google (GOOG) or Apple (AAPL) has ever built, and Binney calculates that the facility will be able to store 100 years worth of the world’s electronic communications.
In the closing lines of a documentary by Laura Poitas, Binney notes that just because “we call ourselves a democracy, it doesn’t mean we will stay that way.” The real problem, he says, is that “people may have nothing to say about it… we haven’t had anything to say so far.”
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- National Security Agency