The National Security Agency is using data processing centers run by AT&T to spy on Americans — and one of the spy hubs is located in the middle of Hell’s Kitchen, according to a report.
The Intercept pinpointed eight telecommunication facilities across the US which the NSA has allegedly used to monitor billions of emails, social media posts, internet browsing histories and chats for years.
“It’s eye-opening and ominous the extent to which this is happening right here on American soil,” said Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice. “It puts a face on surveillance that we could never think of before in terms of actual buildings and actual facilities in our own cities, in our own back yards.”
The website looked over classified NSA documents, public records and interviewed several former AT&T employees — who indicated the buildings are central to an NSA spying initiative.
One of the spy hubs is in Manhattan, at 811 10th Ave., and others are located in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, DC, the outlet reported.
All are AT&T buildings — called “peering” or “backbone” facilities — and are used to process customers’ data and carry large quantities of data from other internet providers, the outlet reported.
Companies that “peer” with AT&T include Sprint, Cogent Communications and Level 3.
All eight buildings are tall, with blacked-out windows or no windows — but could easily fade into a city’s skyline unnoticed, the site reported.
By installing surveillance equipment in the network hubs of the Atlanta “peering” facility, the NSA could gather “not only AT&T’s data, they get all the data that’s interchanged between AT&T’s network and other companies,” Mark Klein, a former technician at AT&T for 22 years, told the website.
The New York building, built in 1964 with 21 floors and no windows to resist a nuclear blast, processes internet traffic as part of the NSA surveillance program code-named “Fairview,” according to NSA and AT&T maps.
The NSA would neither confirm nor deny the claims and declined to comment about the AT&T facilities, but said the agency “conducts its foreign signals intelligence mission under the legal authorities established by Congress and is bound by both policy and law to protect US persons’ privacy and civil liberties.”
AT&T spokesperson Jim Greer said the company is required by law to provide authorities with information to a certain extent, including complying with court orders and subpoenas.
He added that the company provides “voluntary assistance to law enforcement when a person’s life is in danger and in other immediate, emergency situations. In all cases, we ensure that requests for assistance are valid and that we act in compliance with the law.”
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