The program, known as the President’s Surveillance Program, was classified but has since been partially exposed through whistleblowers, government admissions, and independent investigations.
The NSA’s activities included convincing major US telecommunications companies to hand over customers’ call details, which encompassed personal information and detailed records of calls made. This data collection aimed to create a database of every call made within the US, without warrants or judicial oversight.
Additionally, the NSA installed surveillance equipment in secret rooms at key telecommunications facilities, allowing them to access and analyze large streams of domestic and international communications in real-time. This included the ability to data mine and analyse traffic for suspicious keywords, patterns, and connections.
The article also mentions the construction of a $2 billion data center in Utah by the NSA, intended to store and analyse the massive amounts of data collected over the years, including private emails, phone calls, and other digital information.
In the grand theatre of global surveillance, the spotlight often swivels to the Chinese government, with its notorious reputation for monitoring its citizens. Yet, this external focus can be a sleight of hand that diverts attention from the surveillance activities of one’s own government.
Or, in this case, the US government.
The narrative that frames China as the predominant Big Brother is convenient, for it externalises the problem, making it seem distant and perhaps less immediate.
The real question isn’t just who is watching, but who has the means to turn every facet of your digital life into an open book.
And that entity might just be closer to home.