Amazon's participation in government programs remains very interesting, especially in light of the backlash against Google for refusing to renew a Pentagon contract. According to the NSA Chief Information officer Greg Smithberger, analysts will be able to get together more effectively on storage provided by Amazon.
“AWS now provides the U.S. Intelligence Community a commercial cloud capability across all classification levels: Unclassified, Sensitive, Secret, and Top Secret. Right now, almost all NSA’s mission is being done in [IC GovCloud], and the productivity gains and the speed at which our analysts are able to put together insights and work higher-level problems has been really amazing."
The NSA cloud will also use machine learning and AI to work with the data.
"This environment allows us to run analytic tools and do machine-assisted data fusion and big data analytics, and apply a lot of automation to facilitate and accelerate what humans would like to do, and get the machines to do it for them," Smithberger said. Analysts, he said, can "interactively ask questions" of the data in the cloud environment, and it spits out data in “humanly readable form."
Ever since the September 11 attacks, Americans have done their best to bear with increased government surveillance and record collection due to certain broad provisions in the Patriot Act. Collection of phone calls, messages, and emails has been an ongoing losing discussion and debate.
Nearly 4 years ago, Amazon received a $600 million contract to develop a cloud service to the US intelligence community.
Funded by the NSA, and available to all 16 other agencies, the existence of the government monitoring program itself was already confirmed. One source in 2012 by Wired had details about a data center being constructed in Utah. Some mechanics of the collection program were disclosed by Edward Snowden in 2013, the ex-intelligence analyst who fled and is now living in Moscow. Telecommunication companies were again proven to be turning over phone calls and text messages to the intelligence community due to his leaks.
Estimated by a report from the Director of National Intelligence, more than 534 million records of phone calls and text messages were collected in 2017.
According to the VP of AWS in November 2017, "“AWS now provides the U.S. Intelligence Community a commercial cloud capability across all classification levels: Unclassified, Sensitive, Secret, and Top Secret."
So is data being stored on AWS truly a secret? Could this be the hack of all hacks? I think that remains to be seen.