Documents leaked by controversial former NSA contractor Edward Snowden say that a laboratory in College Park is working on developing an advanced type of computer that could break virtually any digital code, reports The Washington Post.
Seven months ago, Snowden, who worked for a government contractor, leaked documents that illuminated the National Security Agency’s reach into the lives of hundreds of millions of people in the United States and around the globe, as it collects information about their phone calls, email messages, friends and contacts, says The New York Times.
According to documents provided by Snowden, the effort to build “a cryptologically useful quantum computer” — a machine exponentially faster than current computers — is part of a $79.7 million research program run by the National Security Agency. Much of the classified work is being done at the Laboratory for Physical Sciences in College Park, the Post says.
The newspaper says the goal is to build a computer that could break nearly every kind of encryption used to protect banking, medical, business and government records – including state secrets -- around the world.
The documents released by Snowden suggest that
the NSA is no closer to successfully building such a computer than the
scientific community, according to the newspaper.
Since his revelations and indictment on espionage charges, Snowden has fled the country and is living in Russia. Some newspaper editorials and opinion writers have begun urging the U.S. government to make a deal with Snowden so he can return home. Those calling for leniency include The New York Times and The Guardian.