NSA taps all phonecall metadata, emails, chat, video chat, IM and basically all electronic activity

1. The Guardian newspaper published a classified court document from April that authorized the government to seize all of Verizon’s phone records on a daily basis—an estimated 3 billion phone calls a day. The government didn’t eavesdrop on anyone (under this court order, at least), but it received all outgoing and incoming numbers for every call, plus the unique electronic fingerprints that identify cellphones.

All of the other cellphone companies and probably landlines telecomm companies have the same arrangement.

2. Power Point slides revealing another classified spying program. Unlike the effort to collect phone records, this one hadn’t even been hinted about publicly.

This program, code-named PRISM, allowed the NSA and FBI to tap directly into the servers of major U.S. Internet companies such as Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and AOL.

Like the phone-records program, PRISM was approved by a judge in a secret court order. Unlike that program, however, PRISM allowed the government to seize actual conversations: emails, video chats, instant messages and more.

3. The NSA has been building a million-square-foot data center near Salt Lake City. That center will reportedly cost about $2 billion to construct—and $40 million a year to power such a wide swath of supercomputers.

According to a report last year by Wired magazine, the Utah facility will be able to handle so much information that its storage capacity is measured in what are known as yottabytes. A yottabyte is so big as to be nearly unimaginable by casual computer users: It’s enough information to fill 200 trillion DVDs.

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