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Restoring Privacy through Fiber Optics

Restoring Privacy through Fiber Optics

Since Edward Snowden left the United States with four laptops containing some of the government’s most highly classified secrets, no one has looked at Internet communications and data transmissions the same. The extent of the NSA’s snooping and the level of compliance from major technology companies may never be known, but some companies are starting to fight back.

In November, the New York Times reported that the government was spying on Google and Yahoo users without having direct access to their data centers; the NSA was tapping into fiber-optic cables. So one way that tech companies are working to rebuild the reputation of data transmission is by taking control of the backbone to the Internet: those fiber optic cables.

In mid-December, the Wall Street Journal reported that Google and Facebook are entering long-term agreements to lease underwater and underground dark fiber networks in addition to building out their own hardware. Google now has control over more than 100,000 miles of cable. Facebook already transmits data over its own dark network to Europe, and recently they invested in a 6,200-mile cable across the Pacific Ocean to Asia. Amazon, Microsoft and IBM are reported to be making similar investments.

In addition to growing their own fiber optic networks, 15 major technology companies, including executives from Apple, Google and Yahoo, met recently with President Obama. In the meeting, they called for an end to domestic surveillance and urged him to aggressively push forward for NSA reform.

At GeoTel Communications, our fiber optic network maps integrate telecom infrastructure data with geospatial technologies so companies can analyze fiber assets in a spatial, map-like environment. This helps them make informed decisions about utilizing local dark fiber networks or planning new fiber networks. If you are interested in obtaining telecom GIS data sets for a particular city or metro area, contact GeoTel Communications at (800) 277-2172.

Valerie Stephen