NSA Utah ‘Data Center’: Biggest-ever domestic spying lab?

began-udc-site-previously.nNSA Utah ‘Data Center’: Biggest-ever domestic spying lab? Camp Williams site before the construction works began. UDC will be located on the west side of the highway. 20 miles away is the Granite Mountain Records Vault. So where is the DNA database going to be?


The biggest-ever data complex, to be completed in Utah in 2013, may take American citizens into a completely new reality where their emails, phone calls, online shopping lists and virtually entire lives will be stored and reviewed.808745

­US government agencies are growing less patient with their own country with every month. First, paying with cash, shielding your laptop screen and a whole list of other commonplace habits was proclaimed to be suspicious – and if you see something you are prompted to say something. Then, reports emerged that drones are being fetched for police forces. Now, the state of Utah seems to be making way in a bid to host the largest-ever cyber shield in the history of American intelligence. Or is it a cyber-pool?808743

Utah sprang to media attention when the Camp Williams military base near the town of Bluffdale sprouted a vast, 240-acre construction site. American outlets say that what’s hiding under the modest plate of a Utah Data Complex is a prospective intelligence facility ordered by the National Security Agency.


­Cyber-security vs. Total awareness

The NSA maintains that the data center, to be completed by September 2013, is a component of the Comprehensive National Cyber-security Initiative. The facility is to provide technical assistance to the Department of Homeland Security, collect intelligence on cyber threats and carry out cyber-security objectives, reported Reuters.

But both ordinary Americans and their intelligence community were quick to dub it “a spy center.

­The Utah Data Center will be built on a 240-acre site near Camp Williams, Utah. Once completed in September 2013, it will be twice as large as the US Capitol. The center will provide 100,000 square feet of computer space, out of a total one million square feet. The project, launched in 2010, is to cost the National Security Agency up to $2 billion.

The highly-classified project will be responsible for intercepting, storing and analyzing intelligence data as it zips through both domestic and international networks. The data may come in all forms: private e-mails, cell phone calls, Google searches – even parking lot tickets or shop purchases.

This is more than just a data center,” an official source close to the project told the online magazine Wired.com. The source says the center will actually focus on deciphering the accumulated data, essentially code-breaking.

This means not only exposing Facebook activities or Wikipedia requests, but compromising “the invisible” Internet, or the “deepnet.” Legal and business deals, financial transactions, password-protected files and inter-governmental communications will all become vulnerable.

Skynet in the desert

Once communication data is stored, a process known as data-mining will begin. Everything a person does – from traveling to buying groceries – is to be displayed on a graph, allowing the NSA to paint a detailed picture of any given individual’s life.

With this in mind, the agency now indeed looks to be “the most covert and potentially most intrusive intelligence agency ever,” as Wired.com puts it.

William Binney, NSA’s former senior mathematician-gone-whistleblower, holds his thumb and forefinger close together and tells the on-line magazine:

We are that far from a turnkey totalitarian state.

­‘Everybody is a target’

Before the data can be stored it has to be collected. This task is already a matter of the past, as the NSA created a net of secret monitoring rooms in major US telecom facilities – a practice that was exposed by people like William Binney in 2006.

The program allowed the monitoring of millions of American phone calls and emails every day. In 2008, the Congress granted almost impecible legal immunity to telecom companies cooperating with the government on national security issues.

By this time, the NSA network has long outgrown a single room in the AT&T building in San Francisco, says Binney:

I think there are ten to twenty of them. This is not just San Francisco; they have them in the middle of the country and also on the East Coast.

Binney suspects the new center in Utah will simply collect all the data there is to be collected. Virtually, no one can escape the new surveillance, created in the US for the War on Terror.

Some data, of course, would be crucial in the anti-terrorism battle: exposing potential adversaries. The question is how the NSA defines who is and who is not a potential adversary.

Everybody is a target; everybody with communication is a target,” remarks another source close to the Utah project.

­Breaking the unbreakable

Now, the last hurdle in the NSA’s path seems to be the Advanced Encryption Standard cipher algorithm, which guards financial transactions, corporate mail, business deals, and diplomatic exchanges globally. It is so effective that the National Security Agency even recommended it for the US government.

Here, the Utah data complex may come in handy for two reasons. First: what cannot be broken today can be stored for tomorrow. Second: a system to break the AES should consist of a super-fast computer coupled with a vast storage capabilities to save as many instances for analysis as possible.

The data storage in Utah, with its 1 million square feet of enclosed space, is virtually bottomless, given that a terabyte can now be stored on a tiny flash drive. Wired.com argues that the US plan to break the AES is the sole reason behind the construction of the Utah Data Center.

The eavesdropping issue has been rocking the US since the Watergate scandal in the 1970s, when domestic spying was eventually outlawed. Nowadays, a lot of questions are still being asked about the secret activities of the US government and whether it could be using the Patriot Act and other national security legislation to justify potentially illegal actions. The NSA’s former employees, who decided to go public, wonder whether the agency – which is to spend up to $2 billion on the heavily fortified facility in Utah – will be able to restrict itself to eavesdropping only on international communications.

So why this area of Utah? Is it because of

Genealogy and the Mormon Archives


One of the core tenets of Mormon faith is that the dead can be baptized into the faith after their passing. Baptism of the dead evolved from the beliefs that baptism is necessary for salvation and that the family unit can continue to exist together beyond mortal life if all members are baptized.

Mormons trace their family trees to find the names of ancestors who died without learning about the restored Mormon Gospel so that these relatives from past generations can be baptized by proxy in the temple. For Latter-day Saints, genealogy is a way to save more souls and strengthen the eternal family unit.

Original records — about 2.4 million rolls of microfilm containing 2 billion names that have been traced — are locked away behind 14-ton doors in the Granite Mountain Records Vault, a climate-controlled repository designed to survive a nuclear impact that is built into the Wasatch mountain range, about 20 miles southeast of Salt Lake City.

The practice has not been without controversy, however. In the mid-1990s, there was a backlash when it was uncovered that the names of about 380,000 Jewish Holocaust victims had been submitted for posthumous baptism by what church historian Marlin Jensen calls “well-intentioned, sometimes slightly overzealous members.” In 1995, the church agreed to remove the names of all Holocaust victims and survivors from its archives and to stop baptizing Jews unless they were direct ancestors of a Mormon or unless they had the permission of all the person’s living relatives. However, Jewish names have periodically been discovered since the 1995 agreement, including that of Holocaust survivor and Jewish human rights activist Simon Wiesenthal, which was found and removed in 2006. Catholics and members of other faiths have also been upset at the practice.

Despite the controversies, the Mormon archives are a boon to professional and amateur genealogists. Copies of the original microfilms are freely available at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, which is the main repository, and they can be ordered at smaller regional Family History Centers. The records include vital records (birth, death and marriage certificates), wills and probate records, land records, town or county records, church records and more.

Much of the information is online at FamilySearch.org, which has several types of databases:

  • The International Genealogical Index (IGI) consists of two kinds of information: primary records typically gathered by Mormon missionaries and transcribed and indexed by Mormon and non-Mormon volunteers; and copies of ordinances provided by members of the church.
  • The Ancestral File has more than 35 million names organized into families and pedigrees. The information is not sourced, though typically you can find the name and address of the person who submitted the information so you can contact the submitter for further information. The Ancestral File stopped taking submissions in 2003; new submissions are added to the Pedigree Resource File. Anyone can submit information to the Pedigree Resource File; like the Ancestral File, the submitter’s name is indicated.
  • The church created an index for every person counted in the 1880 U.S. census, the 1881 Canadian census and the 1881 British census. These records are freely available online, and images can be accessed at the Family History Library or a Family History Center.
  • Other records online through FamilySearch.org include the Social Security Death Index, which has the names of deceased individuals who had a Social Security card and whose death was reported to the Social Security Administration after 1962 (when the database began); and the Vital Records Index, which has birth, death, christening and marriage records for select localities in Mexico and Scandinavia.

In 2001, the LDS Church collaborated with the Ellis Island Foundation to build the American Family Immigration History Center and the Ellis Island Web site, which has the names of 22 million passengers and crew members who arrived in New York through Ellis Island between 1882 and 1924.

And in 2002, the LDS Church began an ambitious plan to scan and put online all of the billions of records in the Granite Mountain Vault, with volunteers creating indices to the records. Because of technological advances, a project once estimated to take 120 years may be finished in the next 10 years.

DNA Databank Bill Passes: Even a Misdemeanor Gets You Registered

The New York state Senate passed the DNA Databank Expansion Bill Tuesday, a bill that would significantly increase the state’s DNA database system.

The state Senate passed the DNA Databank Expansion Bill Tuesday, a bill that would significantly increase the state’s DNA database system.t law requires those that have been convicted of felonies or misdemeanors to submit their DNA to the database. The new measure would require anyone who has been convicted of a felony or penal law misdemeanor to submit their sample.

Supporters of the bill hope that by increasing the databank that crime rates will go down around and that it will help exonerate those who are incarcerated for crimes they did not commit.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo applauded the Senate and urged the Assembly to quickly follow suit so that he could sign the bill into law immediately. Cuomo called the measure, which he proposed in his recent State of the State address, an important step in protecting New Yorkers and modernizing the state’s criminal justice system.

However, some civil liberties groups believe that there are already inaccuracies in the current system and could lead to serious abuse by police and prosecution teams.

As the state’s DNA database expands, so too does the potential for error and abuse, said Robert Perry, legislative director for the New York Civil Liberties Union.

The New York state Senate passed the DNA Databank Expansion Bill Tuesday, a bill that would significantly increase the state’s DNA database system.

4 comments on “NSA Utah ‘Data Center’: Biggest-ever domestic spying lab?

  1. Wow! This bllog looks exactly like my old one! It’s on a totally different subject
    but it has pretty much the same layout and design.

    Superb choice of colors!

  2. Its like you read my mind! You appear to know a lot about this, like you wrote
    the book in it or something. I think that you could do with a few pics to drive
    the message home a bit, but other than that, this is wonderful blog.
    A fantastic read. I will certainly be back.

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