Data on our data: The cost of surveillance

This month marks the first anniversary of the Edward Snowden leaks that changed our understanding of online privacy. Just like the subject matter of the leaks, the reporting over the last year has offered a deluge of information. So this week, we're posting a short series about all that data. Every day we'll bring you another number that reminds us how much we have learned in the last year about online surveillance and the reach of the NSA.

$278,000,000

spent in 2013 by the NSA on "corporate-partner access project

"This is the amount spent by the NSA in fiscal year 2013 under what it calls its corporate-partner access project," Says Susan Crawford, visiting Professor at Harvard Law School. "What they're doing is reimbursing telecommunications companies for domestic surveillance of all internet traffic"

The National Security Agency says that it's pulling data on only non-US citizens. Telecom companies, as well as tech companies, need to comply with these surveillance orders made possible through the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. But they're still not allowed to be fully transparent on what data they're being paid to give up. 

Crawford says, "We do know that the fiber optics cables that NSA is getting access to carry everything - all of our phone calls, all of our emails - and our concern is that domestic surveillance can be carried out through these foreign intelligence programs.”

About the author

Ben Johnson is the host of Marketplace Tech.

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