Bluffdale, UT (AP)
In welcome news to the nation’s cell phone users, the National Security Agency has announced that it will reduce dropped calls by up to 25%. Through the construction of NSA’s new Bluffdale, Utah data center, a common cause of dropped calls will soon be eliminated. “We are pleased to be able to improve the day to day lives of Americans,” said NSA spokesman Ken White. Cell phone users can expect to see improvements in dropped calls by mid-2013.
“As everyone knows, cell phones are not protected by privacy laws,” said White. “For the past ten years, the NSA has been monitoring most cell phone conversations to identify terrorist and other threats to national security.” NSA technicians recently discovered that their surveillance technology would sometimes drop a call as a phone travelled from one radio tower’s region to another. “Basically, driving too fast from one tower to the next confused the monitoring technology, so the call was simply dropped.”
To solve this problem, the NSA is building a new data center that has the ability to buffer, or store, huge amounts of phone and internet data for later analysis. The $2 billion building is nearly 23 acres in size and is expected to employ thousands of Utahans, known for being polyglots. Overall, the NSA’s budget, employee headcount, and most operations are classified.
Local residents are welcoming the change to their community. Rancher and long-time political activist Terry Buckholder said “when the NSA came to buy my ranch land, I was thrilled. They paid me a very attractive price.” Bluffdale mayor Derk Timothy also supports the project. “We welcome the economic growth the new NSA data center will bring our community. We fully expect the NSA to be a good neighbor and a partner in our future.”
There has been some concern from civil liberties proponents. In a recent Wired Magazine article, a former NSA official expressed his concern that the NSA’s activities are too intrusive and violate a citizen’s right to privacy. The American Civil Liberties Union also has some concerns. Spokeswoman Rita Sklar said “this technology is very powerful and could be used to spy on ordinary Americans. In the hands of a Republican administration, that would concern us greatly.”
Still, most people are excited to learn that they will suffer fewer dropped calls. Said Beth Ruby, Des Moines: “Whatever the government can do to improve my cell phone performance and reduce dropped calls, I support.” Rod Rennick of Dallas, TX had similar sentiments. “I see it like the airport TSA. Anything the government can do to improve my safety, even a little, is worth the inconvenience and intrusion to me. Also, I am really looking forward to fewer dropped calls,” said the father of two.