Somebody's watching you: NSA's $2 billion "data center" about to go online
Much more of the people of the world's electronic data can soon be stored in one place.
Just south of Salt Lake City, its flat, innocuous buildings stretch long and dull across the mountainside.
It's not all that meets the eye.
Blandly named and just as bland to look at, The Utah Data Center will domicile much of NSA's infrastructure underground.
The 1.5 million square foot shrine to America's burgeoning electronic spy culture is 7 times bigger than the Pentagon. It sits next to a national guard camp.
It even makes Fox News nervous. "A monstrous digital data centre in Utah capable of sorting through and storing every e-mail, voicemail and social media communication it can get its hands on."
One of the largest construction projects in Utah history, and sitting on 200 acres of land, the project came at a good time for Utah's economy.
When it was announced, every construction company in the state hoped for a contract.
Ultimately, the Army Corps of Engineers awarded a $1.2 billion contract to a consortium of construction companies.
Meanwhile, the government's surveillance bureacracy was booming.
NSA's workforce has grown by a third to 33,000 since September 11, 2001, according to a Washington Post report. And it's budget has doubled.
The enormous government expenditure on security notwithstanding, the Utah mega data centre strikes me as a symbol of an uncertain future. Certainly it will afford more protection and defense from terrorist attacks.
Viewing it from the interstate on a blazing hot and beautiful summer day, it's an eerie sight, once you realize what it is.
Because as James Banford wrote in Wired Magazine last year:
...the NSA has turned its surveillance apparatus on the US and its citizens. It has established listening posts throughout the nation to collect and sift through billions of email messages and phone calls, whether they originate within the country or overseas. It has created a supercomputer of almost unimaginable speed to look for patterns and unscramble codes. Finally, the agency has begun building a place to store all the trillions of words and thoughts and whispers captured in its electronic net.