At&T data processing hubs in eight American cities are alleged to be used by the National Security Agency (NSA) to snoop on the lives of U.S. residents. Known as “peering” facilities, the centers process data from customers of AT&T and telecom companies in Germany, India, Italy, and Sweden. “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, according to The Intercept. She added, “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 backyards.”
At the “peering' facilities”, the NSA can collect data from AT&T, but also data exchanged with other companies. Each site are likely to carry everybody's traffic at one point or another during the day, or the week, or the year, say experts.
The data processing centers are located in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington DC, have several things in common. Besides being AT&T facilities, the buildings are imposing edifices that feature few or blacked out windows, and appear to be able to withstand a nuclear attack. They are located at:
The buildings are located on 10 South Canal Street in Chicago, 1122 3rd Avenue in Seattle, 811 10th Avenue in New York City, 30 E Street Southwest in Washington DC, 51 Peachtree Center Avenue in Atlanta, 611 Folsom Street in San Francisco, 4211 Bryan Street in Dallas and 420 South Grand Avenue in Los Angeles.
Notorious leaker Edward Snowden revealed the close relationship AT&T enjoys with the federal, government when he leaked classified information to the public in 2015. He has since fled American justice and currently resides in Russia. According to the leaked documents, AT&T assists NSA in a number of ways. AT&T enabled NSA to conduct surveillance, under various laws and regulation, on international and foreign-to-foreign internet communications that passed through network hubs in the United States.
The NSA has become the focus of attention since the 2016 election, which was when the Obama administration is accused of conducting surveillance on Donald Trump’s political organization after obtaining a warrant from the secretive Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Court. In that case, the Justice Department relied on an unsubstantiated dossier on Trump, commissioned by Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, as a basis to unmask the identities of communications being made by members of the Trump campaign. The issue has been taken up in various probes being made by the FBI, Department of Justice, and members of Congress.