The NSA pays millions for U.S. telecom access
The Washington Post reports that the NSA paid $278 million this fiscal year to tap into phone lines, e-mail and instant messages
IDG News Service - When it comes to tapping into U.S. telecommunications networks for surreptitious surveillance, the U.S. National Security Agency can't be accused of not paying its way.
The government agency pays "hundreds of millions of dollars a year" to U.S. telecommunications companies for the equipment and service required to intercept telephone calls, emails and instant messages of potential interest, according to a story in Thursday's Washington Post.
For the current fiscal year, the NSA will pay $278 million for such access, and had paid $394 million in fiscal 2011, according to the Post.
Although previous news reports of NSA surveillance noted that the agency paid the costs for tapping into communications networks, the exact amount the agency has paid has not been cited before, according to the Post.
One of the largest of the 16 U.S. intelligence offices, the NSA is in charge of collecting and analyzing data to track foreign activities that could be harmful to the U.S. The agency is overseen by the U.S. Department of Defense's Director of National Intelligence.
The practice dates back at least to the 1970s. These data collection programs -- which have gone under names such as Blarney, Stormbrew, Fairview, and Oakstar -- are separate from the PRISM program first publicly unveiled by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. PRISM collects data from U.S. service providers such as Microsoft, Facebook and Google, whereas with these programs, the NSA collects potential data of interest as it moves across telecommunication gateways.
The article did not provide the names of any telecommunications companies that participate in the program, though notes they typically are paid for the costs of hardware and the labor to install and run the necessary equipment, as well as a certain percentage for profit.
The privacy advocacy group Electronic Privacy Information Center had noted that it is troublesome that the NSA is paying so much to telecommunication companies given that their customers expect that their communications remain private.
- Radicati: Cloud Business Email - Market Quadrant 2013 Google was named the top cloud business email provider in a recent report by research firm Radicati. Out of 14 key players, Google...
- Tablets in the Enterprise: A Checklist for Successful Deployment How can you enterprise manage and secure tablets in order to protect corporate data while providing access to the information and applications employees...
- Enterprise Mobility: A Checklist for Secure Containerization The advantages and disadvantages of the multiple approaches to containerization. Learn More>>
- Enterprise File Sync & Share Checklist File sync and share has changed the way people work and collaborate in today's tech-savvy world. Gone are the email roadblocks, clunky FTP...
- Live Webcast LIVE EVENT: 5/7, The End of Data Protection As We Know It. Introducing a Next Generation Data Protection Architecture. Traditional backup is going away, but where does this leave end-users?
- LIVE EVENT: 5/7, The End of Data Protection As We Know It. Introducing a Next Generation Data Protection Architecture. Traditional backup is going away, but where does this leave end-users?
- On-demand webinar: "Mobility Mayhem: Balancing BYOD with Enterprise Security" Check out this on-demand webinar to hear Sophos senior security expert John Shier deep dive into how BYOD impacts your enterprise security strategy... All Security White Papers | Webcasts