In his first television interview since he resigned from the National Security Agency over its domestic surveillance programme, William Binney discusses the NSA’s massive power to spy on Americans and why the FBI raided his home after he became a whistleblower. He mentions the traffic volume back then as the "20 terabyte/sec problem".
Binney was a key source for investigative journalist James Bamford’s recent exposé in Wired Magazine about how the NSA is quietly building the largest spy centre in the country in Bluffdale, Utah. The Utah spy centre will contain near-bottomless databases to store all forms of communication collected by the agency, including private emails, cell phone calls, Google searches and other personal data, as well as code-breaking facilities.
Is this what has inspired the UK government to resurrect its mass surveillance scheme, the Communications Capabilities Development Programme (CCDP)? Brought back from the dead by the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism at the Home Office, whose Director is Charles Farr, it's very similar to the initiative they were pushing to the last Labour government, called the Interception Modernisation Programme. The idea is to use real-time monitoring to focus and contain the amount of data collected (traffic or content). It's similar to a smart cache, and can also predict what traffic and connections any analyst might subsequently want to know about.
In a further development, Privacy International has exposed an attempt to mislead and persuade unconvinced Lib Dem MPs to vote in favour of the proposal. Executive Director Gus Hosein said:
"Debates around communications interception are always plagued by the complexity of the issues at stake. However, given that the Communications Capabilities Development Programme represents one of the most significant threats to civil liberties this country has faced in the past five years, I would have hoped that MPs were at least being given clear and coherent information about it. How are they supposed to make an informed decision when the issue comes before Parliament if they are presented with briefing documents riddled with factual inaccuracies?"