Country: United States
Region: North America
The Southern Bell Telephone Company Building, now known as the AT&T Communications Building, is the main telephone exchange for downtown Atlanta, Georgia. It is located at 51 Peachtree Center Avenue, on the northeast corner of Auburn Avenue.
It was designed for Southern Bell by Marye, Alger and Vinour, in an austere art deco style. Originally planned to be 25 stories in height, which would have made it the tallest building in Atlanta, it was completed in 1929 at six stories. Additions in 1947, 1948 and 1963 brought it to its present 14 stories. Source: Wikipedia
Intercept NSA Article
Source: Intercept’s NSA Article
The AT&T building in Atlanta was originally constructed in the 1920s as the main telephone exchange for the city’s downtown area. The art deco structure, made of limestone, was designed to be the largest in the city at the time at 25 stories tall. However, due to the Great Depression, plans were scaled back and at first, it only had six stories. Between 1947 and 1963, the building was upgraded to host 14 stories, and a large brown microwave tower – visible for miles – was also added. A profile of the building on the History Atlanta website notes that it contains “operations, phone exchanges and other communications equipment for AT&T.”
NSA and AT&T maps point to the Atlanta facility as being one of eight “peering” hubs that process internet traffic as part of the NSA surveillance program code-named FAIRVIEW. One former AT&T employee – who spoke on condition of anonymity – confirmed that the site was one of eight primary AT&T “Service Node Routing Complexes,” or SNRCs, in the U.S. NSA documents explicitly describe tapping into flows of data at all eight of these sites.
Information provided by a second former AT&T employee adds to the evidence linking the Atlanta building to NSA surveillance. Mark Klein, a former AT&T technician, alleged in 2006 that the company had allowed the NSA to install surveillance equipment in some of its network hubs. An AT&T facility in Atlanta was one of the spy sites, according to documents Klein presented in a court case over the alleged spying. The Atlanta facility was equipped with “splitter” equipment, which was used to make copies of internet traffic as AT&T’s networks processed it. The copied data would then be diverted to “SG3” equipment – a reference to “Study Group 3” – which was a code name AT&T used for activities related to NSA surveillance, according to evidence in the Klein case.
The Atlanta facility is likely of strategic importance for the NSA. The site is the closest major AT&T internet routing center to Miami, according to the NSA and AT&T maps. From undersea cables that come aground at Miami, huge flows of data pass between the U.S. and South America. It is probable that much of that data is routed through the Atlanta facility as it is being sent to and from the U.S. In recent years, the NSA has extensively targeted several Latin American countries – such as Mexico, Brazil, and Venezuela – for surveillance.