The NSA’s Data Collection Sites

On Wednesday, April 5, 2006, it was reported by APFN that the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) “filed legal briefs and evidence supporting its motion for a preliminary injunction in its class-action lawsuit against AT&T.” The judge involved agreed the motion with the condition that it was filed under a seal.

AT&T began their relationship with the United States federal government back in the Cold War. They provide the backbone of the communication systems and projects like the Ballistic Missile Early Warning System (BMEWS) to detect Soviet missile launches. In September, 1964 they install the original NORAD Attack Warning System, although fraught with errors.

Fast forward to 2006 – when the EFF launched their investigation, it brought to light how loosely the government was applying laws surrounding data collection. Considering that we are only 6 people links away from most people in the world, anyone could be said to be “linked to terrorism or national security interests,” giving the government the permission they needed to collect your data.

AT&T and the NSA are known to operate eight peering centers in the United States. Think about peering centers like a bicycle wheel hub. All internet traffic is sent through the middle of the hub. In this case, the NSA has been copying and inspecting everything going through the hub. In 2013, Verizon’s data hubs were added to the list, bringing the number of peering sites up to around 13.

Known peering sites are found at

  • 611 Folsom Street, Room 641A, San Fransisco, CA
  • 1122 3rd Avenue, Seattle, WA
  • 420 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA
  • 10 South Canal Street, Chicago, IL
  • 4211 Bryan Street, Dallas, TX
  • 811 10th Ave, New York, NY
  • 30 E St Southwest, Washington D.C.
  • 51 Peachtree Center, Atlanta, GA

In 2006, Mark Klein, who is now a retired AT&T communications employee, went public with infomormation about the 611 Fulsom Street location. He leaked an image of Room 641A. While working at AT&T, Klein connected internet circuits to a splitting cabinet that led to a secret room in AT&T’s San Francisco office – Room 641A.

Room 641A was revealed by Mark Klein, an AT&T employee

Klein also released a document that documents the technology used in Room 641A and diagrams of what he was asked to accomplish. It was later released by WIRED and found here ->

The NSA operates a massive datacenter in Bluffdale, Utah. This location is likely where data from these data peering sites are stored for later analysis.

Further Reading – declassified info from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence – Time article