Americans recently learned about the PRISM program run by the National Security Agency that collects data – knowingly or unknowingly – from some of the largest Internet and telecommunications providers in the United States. A newly uncovered slide from an NSA document, however, reveals yet another mechanism by which the agency collects data.
The slide, classified “TOP SECRET//SI//ORCON//NOFORN”, details both the PRISM program and so-called “Upstream” capabilities where the agency taps into high-capacity transnational fiber optic lines that run under the ocean. It instructs the intelligence analyst to use both mechanism when spying on Americans. The slide also includes circles that may suggest collection points, but details regarding the capabilities and facilities that enable the collection remain unclear.
What is clear, however, is how sophisticated our government’s network of surveillance and data collection mechanisms really are. No wonder our government just finished construction on a large NSA data processing center near Camp Williams, Utah, designed to collect and store trillions of terabytes of data on the American people.