The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

May 28, 2006

Wal-Mart's data center remains mystery

By Max McCoy

Globe Investigative Writer

JANE, Mo. - Call it Area 71.

Behind a fence topped with razor wire just off U.S. Highway 71 is a bunker of a building that Wal-Mart considers so secret that it won't even let the county assessor inside without a nondisclosure agreement.

The 125,000-square-foot building, tucked behind a new Wal-Mart Supercenter, is only a stone's throw from the Arkansas line and about 15 miles from corporate headquarters in Bentonville, Ark.

There is nothing about the building to give even a hint that Wal-Mart owns it.

Despite the glimpses through the fence of manicured grass and carefully placed trees, the overall impression is that this is a secure site that could withstand just about anything. Earth is packed against the sides. The green roof - meant, perhaps, to blend into the surrounding Ozarks hills - bristles with dish antennas. On one of the heavy steel gates at the guardhouse is a notice that visitors must use the intercom for assistance.

What the building houses is a mystery.

Speculation

Wal-Mart's ability to crunch numbers is a favorite of conspiracy theorists, and its data centers are the corporate counterpart to Area 51 at Groom Lake in the state of Nevada. According to one consumer activist, Katherine Albrecht, even the wildest conspiracy buff might be surprised at just how much Wal-Mart knows about its customers - and how much more it would like to know.

"We were contacted about two years ago by somebody who runs a security company that had been asked in a request for proposals for ways they could link video footage with customers paying for their purchases," Albrecht said. "Wal-Mart would actually be able to view photos and video of customers paying, say, for a pack of gum. At the time, it struck me as unbelievably outlandish because of the amount of data storage required."

1
2 3 4 5 6 7
Text Only
Local News
  • outdoor_waylanskuku.jpg Last remaining Ku-Ku

    While other fast food locations along Miami’s portion of Route 66 tend to slow down in the mid-afternoon, Eugene Waylan is still hard at work behind his grill serving up hamburgers to a packed drive through.

    July 31, 2014 2 Photos

  • Grant to fund solar energy system for PSU’s Plaster Center

    An $80,000 grant from Westar Energy will fund solar panels to provide both energy and education at the Robert W. Plaster Center, now under construction at Pittsburg State University.

    August 1, 2014

  • Habitat slates volunteer work days

    In the wake of the 2011 tornado, Joplin Area Habitat for Humanity has been a partner with organizations and individuals in the construction of 86 new houses. But what’s also needed, Executive Director Scott Clayton said, are repairs to area homes.

    July 31, 2014

  • Jasper County voters to decide three offices

    Two incumbents are facing challengers and three candidates are vying for what will be an open county office in primary balloting Tuesday in Jasper County.

    July 31, 2014

  • Brownback names 3 Kansas Board of Regents members

    Gov. Sam Brownback on Friday named a former veteran Kansas House member and two attorneys to the board overseeing the state’s higher education system.

    August 1, 2014

  • Survey seeks views on Joplin’s future goals

    Residents are being asked to fill out a survey on priorities for Joplin’s future. The effort was inspired by a meeting of community leaders last month. Survey forms are available at the Joplin Public Library and online at www.surveymonkey.com/s/jointjoplinareaplanningsurvey.

    July 31, 2014

  • City Council member criticizes master developer in TV interview

    A member of the Joplin City Council told an Amarillo, Texas, newscaster that Joplin’s contracted master developer has “overpromised and underdelivered.” Councilman Benjamin Rosenberg’s comments were included in a two-part report that aired this week on Amarillo television station KVII-TV.

    July 31, 2014

  • Southeast Kansas health center receives federal funding for mental health services

    The Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas was awarded a $250,000 grant Thursday, part of $54.6 million in Affordable Care Act mental health services funding awarded to 221 such centers nationwide.

    July 31, 2014

  • Denied request for National Guard visit draws attention from Fox News host

    A Carthage church finds itself in the middle of a media storm after the Missouri National Guard, citing short notice and time constraints, was not able to fulfill a request last week to appear at the church’s vacation Bible school.

    July 31, 2014

  • Mike Pound 2010.jpg Mike Pound: It’s no dog’s life out there any longer

    All I had to do to understand why the rest of the world hates us was to read the third paragraph of the Washington Post story.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

Must Read
Sports
Photos


Facebook
Poll

Do you plan on voting in the Aug. 5 elections being held in Missouri and Kansas?

Yes
No
     View Results
Opinion
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter