And those responses were chilling. Deep Packet gives a sense of an insider who at first did not believe the press reports but quickly learned that not only were they true but it went deeper.
By now you have heard of the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s class action suit against ATT. (Support the EFF! I did. ) From the 37 page filing:
This case challenges the legality of Defendants’ participation in a secret and illegal government program to intercept and analyze vast quantities of Americans’ telephone and Internet communications, surveillance done without the authorization of a court and in violation of federal electronic surveillance and telecommunications statues, as well as the First and Fourth Amendments to the United States Constitution.
According to Deep Packet ATT maintains numerous facilities that host very expensive Juniper routers for this project. As far as he knows there is no direct contract with the NSA. In other words ATT is paying for all of this. He feels that the reward is favorable treatment when ATT is bidding on less clandestine government contracts.
According to Deep Packet these Juniper routers have specially designed cards in them to shunt ALL OF THE TRAFFIC from ATT peering points to NSA analysis centers around the country. Peering traffic means not just traffic that begins and ends on ATT’s network but any traffic from networks that ATT has peering arrangements with. A quick look here indicates that is just about… everything.
Now, the EFF claims that ATT handles 300 million voice calls and 4,000 terabytes PER DAY of traffic. I tried to get a feel for whether ATT had enough storage space to actually archive all of that info. Deep Packet says there is A LOT of storage associated with this project. I still doubt it is enough. But maybe enough to grab every conversation that involves airplanes, flight school, anthrax, and Allah.