Swiss Underground Data Bunker May Be Antidote for NSA-Inspired Paranoia

Thursday, December 12, 2013
Entrance to Swiss data bunker (photo: Fabrice Coffrini, AFP)

Switzerland has long been a place where individuals could hide their money in secure bank accounts. Now, the country is becoming a refuge for those wanting to store their data from prying government eyes.


Buried deep inside the Swiss Alps is an enormous underground bunker that once was used by Switzerland’s army. Now, entrepreneurs are using it for a data center where they assume they can bank a company’s or individual’s information without the National Security Agency or any other snoop accessing it.


The 6,400-square-foot Deltalis center—hidden within the 3.7-acre bunker—is located near the central Swiss village of Attinghausen, “but its exact GPS location remains a closely guarded secret,” according to Agence France-Presse (AFP).


It is protected by four-ton steel doors and armed guards, not to mention the mountain range sitting above it. To enter the center, visitors must produce an identification card, submit to a biometric scan, pass through an ultra-sensitive security portal, and be ushered past the massive steel doors, which are said to have been built to specifications that would allow them to withstand a nuclear explosion. A maze of concrete tunnels leads to the data center, which sits 3,300 feet below the mountain peak.


The recent news about NSA spying has been great for business, prompting many new customers to sign up for the subterranean info storage.


“In other countries, all kinds of institutions have access to these data, but here you need permission from a judge,” Swiss Telecommunications Association chief Peter Gruter told AFP. “That is a great advantage compared to, for instance, the United States.”


Christoph Oschwald, co-director of the data center Mount10, told AFP that people used to ask why they should pay for data storage when Google, Apple and other tech firms offer it at no cost. But since the revelations about NSA’s access to user data within those services, no one asks any longer. “Now people know that if it is free, I can’t complain if they are using my data for whatever they want,” he said. Consequently, demand for his company’s services has been “fantastic,” having “tripled within a very short time.”


The tremendous increase in business for super-secure data banks, such as the one deep beneath the Swiss Alps, suggests a growing exodus of customers from the traditional tech giants—people who are in search of data sanctuary, safe from the ubiquitous tentacles of the NSA.


This trend suggests that the tech industry is primed to lose 25% of its revenue—amounting to about $180 billion—by 2016, according to technology advisory firm Forrester Research. The big players in that industry appear to be well aware of this, having this week released an open letter to President Barack Obama and Congress requesting major reform of government spying on the Internet.

- Danny Biederman, Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Switzerland Wants to Keep Your ‘Precious’ Personal Data Safe from Prying Eyes (Agence France-Presse)

Major Tech Firms, Fearing Loss of Profits, Call for Reform of Government Surveillance; Obama Hedges (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Danny Biederman, AllGov)

Senate Committee Approves Continued Bulk Spying on Americans (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

NSA Gone Wild: Spying on UN, European Union and 80 Embassies Worldwide (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


Leave a comment