The NSA and Silicon Valley

The city of San Jose sprawls through California's Silicon Valley.

Back in 2010, the chief security officer for Facebook, Max Kelly left the company.  Where did he go? He didn't go to  Google or  Twitter -- he took a job with the NSA.   

Nick Wingfield and James Risen examined the relationship between Silicon Valley and NSA in the New York Times today.

"What we tried to show in this story was that the connections are really deep and operate on a lot of different levels.  At the basis, both of these industries are really interested in big data and making sense of it -- for very different purposes," said Wingfield.

Wingfield says the NSA goes to job fairs in Silicon Valley to recruit people.  He says one of the most colorful examples is when the head of the NSA, Keith Alexander, spoke at Defcon, a well-known conference for hackers.

"This is a guy that you don’t normally see in anything but military uniforms -- and he was wearing a black t-shirt and jeans," said Wingfield.

What do Silicon Valley companies get?

"They get business. Government contracts can be very lucrative," said Wingfield.

He added, "There have been so many of these different services out there that have incredible mountains of data -- it’s gotten very interesting to the NSA and others."

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.

Comments

I agree to American Public Media's Terms and Conditions.
With Generous Support From...