Amazon to build CIA cloud

The online giant has reportedly won a contract for CIA efforts to "collect everything and hang on to it forever"

Topics: CIA, cloud computing, amazon, Surveillance, gus hunt, ,

Amazon to build CIA cloud (Credit: Shutterstock)

In a speech in New York Wednesday, the CIA’s chief technical officer, Gus Hunt, explained the spy agency’s strategy for a broad surveillance dragnet:

“The value of any piece of information is only known when you can connect it with something else that arrives at a future point in time,” Hunt said. “Since you can’t connect dots you don’t have, it drives us into a mode of, we fundamentally try to collect everything and hang on to it forever.”

As HuffPo’s Matt Sledge noted, Hunt’s speech indicated that the CIA has interest in storage and analysis capabilities on a massive scale — a scale that likely requires its own server in the cloud. Online giant Amazon will reportedly be facilitating this.

As Federal Computer Week reported this week,  the CIA has committed to a $600 million, 10-year deal with Amazon for cloud computing services. Although neither Amazon nor the agency has confirmed the report, Hunt’s speech, noted Sledge, made numerous references to cloud computing.

According to FCW, the partnership with Amazon could mean public cloud computing inside the intelligence agency’s secure firewalls, “thereby negating concerns of classified data being hosted in any public environment,” FCW said. The CIA would also be able to enhance the security of its cloud system, which currently consists of a number of small, highly specific private clouds, PC World noted.

The specifics of the Amazon-CIA deal are not yet known and nor are the implications for privacy. What is evident, however, is that the Internet giant and the spy agency already share an interest in tracking the behavior of the public — call them citizens or customers. It’s unsurprising that the online leviathan would be able to help the CIA “collect everything and hang on to it forever.”

And, of course, we are actively taking part in this surveillance effort too. As the CIA tech chief said in his speech Wednesday, “You are aware of the fact that somebody can know where you are at all times, because you carry a mobile device, even if that mobile device is turned off … You know this, I hope? Yes? Well, you should.”

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email

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