The Stack Archive

Utah data centre critical to help the NSA ‘eliminate all private communications’, says Snowden journalist

Wed 8 Apr 2015

The journalist and ex-lawyer who came to prominence by helping Edward Snowden to disclose the secrets of the National Security Agency has spoken of ‘government inside the government’ and the critical role of the NSA’s ‘Intelligence Community Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative Data Center’ at a gathering in Utah, describing the plant as having an “ominous role in the surveillance state”.

Speaking at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts at the University of Utah, former lawyer and Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald discussed the scope of the NSA’s mandate to collect information, and criticised the agency’s broad remit:

“It’s not, like, ‘Collect a lot of it,’” said Greenwald, “or even, like, ‘Collect all the terrorist communications,’…It’s like saying the goal of the NSA is to eliminate all private communications.”

Greenwald is said to have stated that the Utah Data Centre at Bluffdale ‘helps solve that problem’.

Dubbed ‘the spy center’ by local media, the data centre at Utah occupies 1 million square feet and contains four 25,000 square foot data halls backed up by 60,000 tons of cooling equipment and caters to a 65mw peak demand. It is reported to have a maximum capacity of a yottabyte of information (1024 bytes), equivalent to 500 quintillion pages of text.


Greenwald said at the event “The better [the government’s] capacity for storage, and the more space they have to do it the longer they can keep the data,”

The journalist, who lives a reportedly eccentric life in Rio de Janeiro, was one of two reporters that caught NSA fugitive Edward Snowden’s eye when he was considering how to disseminate information he had retrieved from his time with the agency. Greenwald’s 2013 meeting with Snowden is reputed to have led to the disclosure to him of thousands of pages of harvested NSA documents.

Greenwald, speaking as part of the university’s surveillance-themed Secrecy Week, also implicitly criticised the University of Utah by suggesting that a university should not open up its campus to government agencies just because it might provide abundant funding, asserting “That sort of subverts the concept of universities”. The University of Utah has provided courses for students intended to lead to work at the Bluffdale data centre.


Edward Snowden news privacy security
Send us a correction about this article Send us a news tip