Several officials said senior government officials went to the nation’s big telecommunications companies to get access to switches that act as gateways between U.S. and international communications.
Many calls going from one foreign country to another are routed through U.S. switches and a communications expert who once worked at the NSA said in recent years government officials have been encouraging the telecommunications industry to bring more international traffic through U.S.-based switches.
Throughout the 90s, the U.S. government sought this kind of access through legislation. The industry fought it, because it is very bad business to spy on one’s customers. Regardless of what you think about this activity, the last sentence there is going to destroy U.S. carriers in the international calling market. Anyone concerned about U.S. monitoring of their calls—such as businesses that are concerned about economic espionage—is going to opt for a carrier that will not put their traffic onto the U.S. backbone.
Having a wonderful time in Germany; you can read my email at the NSA!