[Image: Via Wired News, Switchboard to the World, a copyrighted map produced by the organization Telegeography Research.]
Curious how the nation's spies are managing to keep tabs on virtually every international call that rings through the U.S.? Wired News breaks down a recent bill called the RESTORE Act that could potentially "give the NSA legal access to a torrent of foreign phone calls and internet traffic that travels through American soil on its way someplace else." Read the article for yourself but it is a combination of the internet's origins in the U.S. and the fact that the U.S. has made it cheaper for telecom carriers to route international calls that has allowed the U.S. to become the global hub for global telecom traffic. It's wild to read about the secret geography of this switch and tower telecom urbanism in the U.S., and how to some extent a majority of international calls pass through only a very few facilities that could be tapped by the NSA, with some suspicious nearby arrangements that could lead one to speculate on all sorts of corporate collusion.
We also read "In August, Congress granted the NSA "emergency" temporary powers to continue the surveillance, which are set to expire in February. The RESTORE Act (the Responsible Electronic Surveillance That is Overseen Reviewed and Effective Act of 2007) is the Democrat's effort to extend that power indefinitely, while including some safeguards against abuse. It would legalize both the foreign-to-foreign intercepts, and the domestic-to-foreign surveillance associated with the Terrorist Surveillance Program." Bush however is prepared to veto this if it is not revised to give "retroactive legal immunity to telephone companies who cooperated in the NSA's domestic surveillance before it was legalized -- a provision absent from the RESTORE Act. AT&T, which is facing a class-action lawsuit for allegedly wiretapping the internet on behalf of the NSA, is reportedly among the companies lobbying hard for immunity."
Though, towards the end of Wired's piece we read about how all of this is beginning to be more subverted by alternative communication paths and networks which are emerging in other countries that are absorbing a growing portion of international telecom traffic through their own facilities and hubs.
Anyway, pretty interesting read. Don't miss it. And don't miss our previous post NSA-Spy.net, or this video.