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NSA Utah Data Center Blueprints Reveal It Holds Less Than Thought

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the where-your-name-goes dept.

Privacy 197

cold fjord writes "Break out the tin foil hats, and make them double thick. Forbes reports, 'The NSA will soon cut the ribbon on a facility in Utah ... the center will be up and running by the "end of the fiscal year," ....Brewster Kahle is the engineering genius behind the Internet Archive,... Kahle estimates that a space of that size could hold 10,000 racks of servers .... "So we are talking $1 billion in machines." Kahle estimates each rack would be capable of storing 1.2 petabytes of data. ... all the phone calls made in the U.S. in a year would take up about 272 petabytes, ... If Kahle's estimations and assumptions are correct, the facility could hold up to 12,000 petabytes, or 12 exabytes – ... but is not of the scale previously reported. Previous estimates would allow the data center to easily hold hypothetical 24-hour video and audio recordings of every person in the United States for a full year. The data center's capacity as calculated by Kahle would only allow the NSA to create archives for the 13 million people living in the Los Angeles metro area. Even that reduced number struck Internet infrastructure expert Paul Vixie as high given the space allocated for data in the facility. ... he came up with an estimate of less than 3 exabytes of data capacity for the facility. That would only allow for 24-hour recordings of what every one of Philadelphia's 1.5 million residents was up to for a year. Still, he says that's a lot of data pointing to a 2009 article about Google planning multiple data centers for a single exabyte of info. '" Update: 07/25 16:33 GMT by T : For even more, see this story.

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oh yeah (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44377801)

They will include this thread for sure. They told me.

Big disappointment (-1, Offtopic)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#44377803)

After looking through the blueprints I couldn't find anywhere designated for a Stargate [wikipedia.org] . Bummer.

On the bright side, that is one more rumor that can be laid to rest.

Re:Big disappointment (3, Informative)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | about a year ago | (#44377857)

After looking through the blueprints I couldn't find anywhere designated for a Stargate [wikipedia.org] . Bummer.

On the bright side, that is one more rumor that can be laid to rest.

tsk tsk everyone knows the stargate is under Cheyenne Mountain, it probably a storage facility for pilfered alien tech

Re:Big disappointment (1)

Dexter Herbivore (1322345) | about a year ago | (#44378043)

tsk tsk everyone knows the stargate is under Cheyenne Mountain, it probably a storage facility for pilfered alien tech

You mean like a warehouse? I'd bet that the NSA would have at least 12 of them prior to this facility.

Or just some Area to keep the stuff in, they'd have to have at least 50 of them by now.

Re:Big disappointment (3, Interesting)

Anachragnome (1008495) | about a year ago | (#44378693)

"Or just some Area to keep the stuff in, they'd have to have at least 50 of them by now..."

Let's not forget the 72 "Fusion Centers" located throughout the country.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fusion_center [wikipedia.org]

From that article:

"MIAC report

Missouri Information Analysis Center (MIAC) made news in 2009 for targeting supporters of third party candidates, Ron Paul supporters, pro-life activists, and conspiracy theorists (Hi, Mom!) as potential militia members.[14] Anti-war activists and Islamic lobby groups were targeted in Texas, drawing criticism from the ACLU.[15]

According to the Department of Homeland Security:[16]

        [T]he Privacy Office has identified a number of risks to privacy presented by the fusion center program:

                Justification for fusion centers
                Ambiguous Lines of Authority, Rules, and Oversight
                Participation of the Military and the Private Sector
                Data Mining
                Excessive Secrecy
                Inaccurate or Incomplete Information
                Mission Creep"

Ironically, this is a report from the Dept. of Homeland Security about the risks of such centers. And yet, nobody has even mentioned how many overseas facilities we're paying for on top of all the domestic ones.

Re:Big disappointment (0)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#44378781)

If you look at the background material, the fusion centers perform intelligence analysis and information sharing among multiple agencies. They aren't big datacenters like the one in the story.

Re:Big disappointment (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about a year ago | (#44378163)

I've been to Cheyenne Mountain and seen the Stargate. It's not what you think, they are not doing what you think they might, it would disappoint you. Every transaction take a huge amount of paperwork, I believe that Snowden will be releasing that data soon.

Re:Big disappointment (0)

Rockoon (1252108) | about a year ago | (#44378631)

First they have to apply for a permit to go to a new planet. That permit requires that an environmental impact study be performed. All materials that you bring with you must be made of local indigenous elements....

Re:Big disappointment (4, Funny)

skribe (26534) | about a year ago | (#44378253)

tsk tsk everyone knows the stargate is under Cheyenne Mountain, it probably a storage facility for pilfered alien tech

They had to move the Stargate during the Borg invasion, just before the Death Star showed up.

Re:Big disappointment (5, Funny)

cervesaebraciator (2352888) | about a year ago | (#44378261)

Which, oddly enough, is located in British Columbia. They picked the site because the surrounding countryside coincidentally resembles every habitable planet in the galaxy.

Re:Big disappointment (2)

AHuxley (892839) | about a year ago | (#44377995)

What "rumor" cold?
Why would any spy agency hold "24-hour video and audio recordings" on every person?
You get a file, work, school, crime, links, where seen on the 'net', hops to other people of interest, past clearances, links to any one with a clearances.
Political insights, weaknesses, funding....
No service would store video and audio recordings as they have computer code to do that long term vs huge per frame/endless audio.
Another trick is to turn the 'voice' into text. So the data per person needed for the "size" of people of interest in the USA is usable as reported.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Core [wikipedia.org] showed what could be done in the early 1980's is the NSA is hoping to keep a bit more that the "essence" this time.

Re:Big disappointment (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44378531)

He just wanted the 'big disappointment' soundbite onto his Slashdot obfuscation post.

A data center that size is about 10000 times larger than needed to hold the phone record metadata disclosed. Far larger even than all instant messages, and email content text for everyone.

Scary they can build that and nobody in Congress knows yet. They all think its for the *disclosed* metadata, but it can't possibly be, its far too big.

Re:Big disappointment (1, Insightful)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#44378645)

Scary they can build that and nobody in Congress knows yet.

Right, "nobody" in Congress knows that NSA is building that big data center. Not even the Congress members that have it in their districts.

They all think its for the *disclosed* metadata, but it can't possibly be, its far too big.

The NSA has responsibility for signal intelligence world-wide. You may recall from the news that the program involving phone records tied to direct communications with terrorists is a minor program involving only $20,000,000. Don't let your brainstorm carry you away to crank conspiracy theories.

He just wanted the 'big disappointment' soundbite onto his Slashdot obfuscation post.

I'm sure that made sense if you're drunk blogging.

"nobody" knowns in Congress (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44378779)

"Right, "nobody" in Congress knows that NSA is building that big data center"

Strawman. Nobody in Congress knows its about 4 orders of magnitude too big to be just for metadata. Nor do they realize that it's just one out of a whole set of current data centers. It's content, bulk content and since the biggest source of content is their US intercepts it will be mostly US content.

They're debating whether to cancel the metadata trawl, but the data center shows its massive surveillance of content too.

"The NSA has responsibility for signal intelligence world-wide. You may recall from the news that the program involving phone records tied to direct communications with terrorists is a minor program involving only $20,000,000. Don't let your brainstorm carry you away to crank conspiracy theories."

I agree, its ordinary peoples data, several GB for everyone on the planet. Not a few thousand terrorists. If you recall Gmail big sell was it's 1GB mail storage that lets you 'keep all your email', the NSA could store that several times over FOR EVERYONE ON THE PLANET in just this one data center.

"I'm sure that made sense if you're drunk blogging."
No, you just wanted to add a soundbite to your misinformation post. Just as you raised a strawman in this argument.

Re:Big disappointment (1)

OhANameWhatName (2688401) | about a year ago | (#44378071)

I couldn't find anywhere designated for a Stargate

Thats the emergency action map. Everyone knows that in the event of an emergency you don't use the Stargate, take the stairs instead.

Re:Big disappointment (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | about a year ago | (#44378303)

After looking through the blueprints I couldn't find anywhere designated for a Stargate [wikipedia.org] . Bummer.

On the bright side, that is one more rumor that can be laid to rest.

Of course. They're building this as the studio for faking the Mars landings. They're not going to blow it by going low-budget this time around.

Saving face (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44377807)

Expect more articles like this that downplay the scale of the NSA.

Re:Saving face (0, Troll)

Capsaicin (412918) | about a year ago | (#44377815)

Expect more articles like this that downplay the scale of the NSA.

Yeah it's a mere 12 exabytes (and of course Moore's law won't apply ... ahem), on us. Nothing to see here kids, just move along.

Re:Saving face (1, Insightful)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#44377859)

To be fair, Paul Vixie thought it was more like 3 exabytes. The NSA has world wide responsibilities for all sorts of signal intelligence. I would guess that purely domestic data would be a minor part of it. No sense being narcissists about it, not everything is about "us."

Re:Saving face (1)

Capsaicin (412918) | about a year ago | (#44377979)

No sense being narcissists about it, not everything is about "us."

I'm not in the US. I'm a narcissist who plans overthrowing the old word order from my island bunker somewhere in the South Pacific ;) (.au). By 'us' I meant humanity.

Re:Saving face (1)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#44378057)

I'm a narcissist who plans overthrowing the old word order from my island bunker somewhere in the South Pacific ;) (.au).

LOL. Personally, I like the sound of that. I really must look into getting one of those island bunkers for myself. ;) Of course, maybe a cabin in the outback will do until I can afford it.

I'm already practicing my evil laugh [youtube.com] .

Re:Saving face (2)

AHuxley (892839) | about a year ago | (#44378307)

"world wide responsibilities" where mapped out and taken care of during the cold war. The USA has bases, camps, forts, agreements as needed around all the nations it wishes to 'contain'.
Any global gaps in "signal intelligence" where fixed long ago.
The "domestic data" aspect is new and seems to need a new location, a new vetted domestic workforce, lots of cooling water and power supply.
The USA dislikes huge raw encrypted movements around the world.
The USA likes to get the data in bulk, work on it near the first safe downlink and send a tiny fraction of well encrypted data all the way back to the USA.
Moving raw bulk "signal intelligence" back to the USA in a few steps is a total waste of effort due to great regional support thats been in place for years.
Why the raw "signal intelligence" effort in the USA? There are less international links to worry about this time. The "signal intelligence" is going to be local.

Re:Saving face (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44378447)

To be fair, anyone looking at the declassified floor plan ought to ask about the basement that was left out of their version of the blueprint.

None of the people involved in this article have seen the actual facility, nor the actual plans for the facility.

Re:Saving face (1)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | about a year ago | (#44377867)

and they haven't even taken into consideration compression tellaphone has really low audio quality so it should take that much space when compressed

Re:Saving face (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44377957)

If we assume 32 kb/s for telephone, then 272 PB they give in the summary would only be 5 minutes per person in the US per day. Even if you drop that down to 8 kb/s, that is only 20 minutes per person, per day. Doesn't seem that far off.

Re:Saving face (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44377989)

and they haven't even taken into consideration compression tellaphone has really low audio quality so it should take that much space when compressed

Or if its processed to transcript and stored as text .. then deduped .. then compressed .. and who said they were using magnetic media? Or only had above-ground capacity?

Pretty unimaginative to assume that this is a giant storage node ..

Re:Saving face (1)

Capsaicin (412918) | about a year ago | (#44378031)

and they haven't even taken into consideration compression tellaphone has really low audio quality so it should take that much space when compressed

Even without storing actual conversations the knowledge of whom you call, how often, when from where etc. for most people connected to telephone systems in the civilised world is an amazingly powerful tool for profiling individuals. People worried about 24 hour video of them miss the point. In fact, such info might be preferable as it would lower the chances of the door being smashed in one midnight due to a Type I error.

Of course they have much more than that. They have Google's amazing database of per IP web usage meta-data, Apple & Googles databases for their GPS equipped iOS and Android devices. And then some.

Recordings of conversations or video of activities are soooooo C20th. With suitable advances they will of course become so C22nd eventually. For now, they are no where near as powerfully mined as the kind of usage metadata NSA has procured from the marketers.

How many hard drives? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44377911)

Never mind that the annual production of hard drives is about 100 million drives. If they were all on the order of 5 TB, 10 EB would represent 2% of the global hard drive market for a year. Annual tape production is actually very similar order of magnitude to the annual hard drive production, so it is not like tapes gain you much. At least this is more reasonable than the estimates that previously were in the zetabyte range that would have to assume they had ten years worth of hard drive and/or tape production at current storage density.

Re:Saving face (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44377831)

This was submitted by cold fjord, Slashdot's resident neo-con who supports waterboarding, said the Iraq war was "worth it", and said Bradley Manning deserved to be tortured for 'faking' feeling suicidal. What do you expect?

Oh, and this facility will "only allow for 24-hour recordings of what every one of Philadelphia's 1.5 million residents was up to for a year". It is convenient that the article fails to mention that this is only one facility out of a dozen or so.

Re:Saving face (2)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year ago | (#44377877)

This was submitted by cold fjord, Slashdot's resident neo-con who supports waterboarding, said the Iraq war was "worth it", and said Bradley Manning deserved to be tortured for 'faking' feeling suicidal.

Oh please! It's nothing that elaborate. All indications are that he has been hired to write this stuff, which really smells of professional marketing. He's damn near a 'bot.

Re:Saving face (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44377931)

Be careful; cold fjord might reply to you and spam a million links that don't demonstrate that security is more important than freedom and probably aren't even relevant.

Re:Saving face (2)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year ago | (#44377975)

Hell, I already friended him. I think he's funny.

Re:Saving face (1, Troll)

FriendlyLurker (50431) | about a year ago | (#44378513)

Be careful; cold fjord might reply to you and spam a million links that don't demonstrate that security is more important than freedom and probably aren't even relevant.

Worse, As all good propaganda mouthpieces should have - Cold Fjord appears to have an army of accounts/mod points to blast your karma to kingdom come, fairly easy to spot when you check the details/timestamps. I wonder what his exact relationship is with slashdot editors is, given his record getting obvious propaganda placements posted by them. Perhaps there is a gag order covering that too...

Re:Saving face (2)

Black Parrot (19622) | about a year ago | (#44378263)

Nah, if he was in disinfo he'd be posting as cold fnord, so no one would notice him.

Re:Saving face (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44378345)

" All indications are that he has been hired to write this stuff..."

Look at the rate that he responds to posts, how often he submits articles and what times of the day he is doing so. Slashdot is his "job" now.

Re:Saving face (1)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#44378445)

He's damn near a 'bot.

Not a bot, just "cold." ;)

Re:Saving face (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44378477)

You would have to be cold (and blind) to do the work you do, cold fjord propaganda puppet. I dont know how you sleep at night...

Re:Saving face (1)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#44378423)

... said Bradley Manning deserved to be tortured for 'faking' feeling suicidal. What do you expect?

At the moment I'm coming to expect that you are pathologically unable to accurately relay factual information.

Re:Saving face (1, Offtopic)

Anachragnome (1008495) | about a year ago | (#44378587)

"This was submitted by cold fjord..."

Lets take a close look at what "Cold Fjord" has been up to for the last week.

July 24, 2013 Posting from 11:06am --- 11:25pm Total Posts:13 Submissions:1 Longest Break from Slashdot:8hrs

July 23, 2013 Posting from 12:09am --- 11:46pm Total Posts:30 Submissions:2 Longest Break from Slashdot: 4hrs

July 22, 2013 3 Posts Total, 1 in the AM, 2 in the PM DAY OFF (no links in posts-posting from a phone?)

July 21, 2013 Posting from 8:54am --- 10:29pm Total Posts:18 Submissions:0 Longest Break from Slashdot: 4hrs

July 20, 2013 3 Posts Total, all 3 in the AM DAY OFF (no links in posts-posting from a phone?)

July 19, 2013 Posting from 4:05am --- 9:57am Total Posts:18 Submissions:0 Longest Break from Slashdot: 8hrs

July 18, 2013 Posting from 1;22am --- 10:43pm Total Posts:18 Submissions:0 Longest Break from Slashdot: 4hrs x2

11 Submissions total in the last month.

As I've stated in a previous post ( http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=3948321&cid=44218623 [slashdot.org] ), I suspect "Cold Fjord" of having at least 2 other accounts--they all use Northern European references--so, if you do the math, posting at the rate he has been with this account, on 3 accounts, he has a full week of work doing nothing but posting on Slashdot.

Also, since I stated my beliefs about "Cold Fjord", my past posts are slowly but surely being moderated into the negative, where many of those posts were +2-3 territory originally. I've also not had a single post moderated over +2 since then, nor do I ever see the actual reason for the moderation (insightful, etc) unless I am in the negative.

Now that you know all of that, actually read some of the bullshit he spews in his posts, then read the following document outlining how forums can be manipulated, therefore manipulating public perception.

http://cryptome.org/2012/07/gent-forum-spies.htm [cryptome.org]

I'll make no bones about it--I think "Cold Fjord" is a paid forum-manipulator. I can only guess who actually pays him.

Re:Saving face (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44377937)

Because no one has motives running counter to that NSA, nor the motivation to exaggerate or let their fears lead to irrational hyperbole. Nope, instead we should believe every every damning claim against them, even if physically impossible, because that is more important than understanding exactly what threat they present. It is not like it would be possible to disagree with the NSA and at the same time think that having a realistic, practical view of the problem will improve the chances of finding a solution compared to trying to fight imaginary strawmen disjoint from the real issues.

Re:Saving face (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44377983)

No entity on earth should have such gigantic datacenters dedicated to spying everyone whether they are american or not. The very nature of those activities no matter their scale is already crossing the line and shall not be tolerated.

Re:Saving face (0, Offtopic)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#44378137)

No entity on earth should have such gigantic datacenters dedicated to spying everyone whether they are american or not. The very nature of those activities no matter their scale is already crossing the line and shall not be tolerated.

The US is the easy case. Until you find a way to get China, North Korea, Iran, (oppressive regime X), et al. to give them up, and various terrorist groups to stop attacking*, you're going to be stuck with it. If you are going to be stuck with it, the free democratic nations need intelligence agencies that are capable of helping to protect their societies. That brings you back to the US and its allies which cooperate to defend each other. Unilateral disarmament in the face of aggression tends to have significant negative consequences. Nothing will change for the good unless there is a better reason and plan than, "I don't like it, I don't want it."

* And make no mistake about the terrorist groups, they have their own independent agendas. They are not simply reacting to Europe or the Anglosphere. Al Qaida wants to reestablish the Islamic Caliphate government that was dissolved after the fall of the Ottoman Empire in 1923, and conquer the world for Islam.

Re:Saving face (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44378191)

No, on the internet you don't get security by intelligence but by thoughtful security practices.

Data breaches are the results of bad policies and bad users and those could have been prevented without spying on anyone. (As if generalized police state would actually solve anything anyways...)

You are not at war with China, you are not at war with Iran (which is just being actively bullied) and NK is a joke. Leave the rest of the world at peace. If oil is lacking that's only because you stuffed your mouthful of it for the past century.

At this point in time the most virulent terrorists on earth are the USA.

You're obfuscating the issue (4, Insightful)

Camael (1048726) | about a year ago | (#44378285)

The US is the easy case. Until you find a way to get China, North Korea, Iran, (oppressive regime X), et al. to give them up, and various terrorist groups to stop attacking*, you're going to be stuck with it.

I hope you are seriously not making the argument that the US must do it because regimes like China, North Korea and Iran are doing it. There are a lot of things that China, North Korea and Iran do that the US would do well not to emulate , starting with opressing their own citizens.

the free democratic nations need intelligence agencies that are capable of helping to protect their societies.

Nobody disagrees with that broad principle. Whether the intelligence agencies need to have the power to indiscriminately harvest untargeted information on everyone to be capable at their job however, is in issue. If you want to take it to extremes, you could also make the argument that the NSA should be given the powers once held by Stasi, KGB, and their Chinese equivalents to be truly capable. It is true that this would increase the effectiveness of the NSA but I dont think anyone really wants to go there.

Unilateral disarmament in the face of aggression tends to have significant negative consequences.

Strawman argument. No one is suggesting that the US, or the NSA "unilaterally disarm" against China, North Korea, Iran et. al. The whole reason why PRISM blew up was because the NSA was collecting data not on China, North Korea or Iran, but on their own citizens and innocent third parties . That is only insofar as PRISM is concerned, we have no idea what other information may be collected by other programs because the NSA won't tell us.

That would be the equivalent of using your arms on your own family and innocent outsiders in the face of aggression.

CHECK MODDING ON PARENT (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44378537)

How curious you got modded offtopic - one of the dangers in engaging with cold fjord using reasoned arguments and facts.

Re:Saving face (1, Offtopic)

Anachragnome (1008495) | about a year ago | (#44378795)

Damn, dude. You are fucking stupid.

"Cold Fjord" responds to my post 2 minutes later with unrelated garbage...and gets modded upwards, +2 insightful 2 minutes after that? Does anyone else need proof that he is using numerous accounts to farm moderation points, which he then uses to mod himself up and others down?

Again, see the following link for a full explanation of his tactics, then compare to his post/submission history--his favorite tactic is "forum-sliding" where he posts inane/irrelevant crap to force other posts--the ones he doesn't want viewed--off the bottom of the screen, thereby decreasing the chance those posts are modded upward. He is currently trying to push another post of mine in this discussion that is currently at +5 further down the screen by posting above it. He is also attempting to distract from the post he just responded to (mine) by changing the subject.

http://cryptome.org/2012/07/gent-forum-spies.htm [cryptome.org]

Re:Saving face (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44378141)

Nope, instead we should believe every every damning claim against them, even if physically impossible, because that is more important than understanding exactly what threat they present.

Sure. I'm always keen to give the NSA a chance to disprove the 'damning claim against them'. You say these claims are false because....?

*gag order*
*gag order*
*gag order*
*crickets*

Re:Saving face (1)

whoever57 (658626) | about a year ago | (#44378009)

Expect more articles like this that downplay the scale of the NSA.

I can think of arguments for the NSA wanting to overplay its capability and also downplay it.

Re:Saving face (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | about a year ago | (#44378273)

Expect more articles like this that downplay the scale of the NSA.

I can think of arguments for the NSA wanting to overplay its capability and also downplay it.

It's a conspiracy either way!

(Only Goldilocks can be trusted.)

Re:Saving face (1)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#44378451)

(Only Goldilocks can be trusted.)

You obviously haven't checked your porridge bowl.

4 GB per person on the planet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44378291)

If there are 3 billion people online on the planet, that's 1GB per person. Enough for all their emails, weblogs, chats, and a huge shitload of photos. The following 3 data centers would presumably increase this to 4GB per person on the planet.

Wow. 'Downplay'???

About the only thing it *can't store* is live video, but your photos, web, chats, VOIP, and telephone voice even etc. easy with plenty to spare.

" That would only allow for 24-hour recordings of what every one of Philadelphia's 1.5 million residents was up to for a year."

*only*? The average call plan is 300 minutes a month, so it could record the cellphone conversations for 432 million people.

Wow. They don't need that for call meta data which is tiny by comparison (CDRs are tiny records used to log phone calls and a months worth fits in under 10k per person). They don't need that for email either, email text is tiny.

They must be grabbing bulb content data. Attachment, Googles cloud printed documents, email content, and a shed load of photos and spreadsheets etc.

Re:Saving face (5, Interesting)

Anachragnome (1008495) | about a year ago | (#44378325)

"Expect more articles like this that downplay the scale..."

Downplay the scale? We haven't even seen the drawings for the below-ground facilities.

But, seriously. From the article...

"...and that the sheer size of the data centers in Utah and elsewhere suggests that the agency wants to vacuum up everything it can..."

That's my emphasis--plural. There are more then one of these centers. Take a look at the layout of the Utah Data Center article at Wikipedia.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utah_Data_Center [wikipedia.org]

Does that building layout look anything like the one at the top of the linked Forbes article? The picture of the buildings and the layout right above are a match in the Wikipedia article, yet they don't match the plans in the Forbes article.

So where is this data center that Forbes has the plans to? They're obviously not the same.

Re:Saving face (-1, Troll)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#44378717)

Does that building layout look anything like the one at the top of the linked Forbes article? The picture of the buildings and the layout right above are a match in the Wikipedia article, yet they don't match the plans in the Forbes article.

So where is this data center that Forbes has the plans to? They're obviously not the same.

So it surprises you that the etch-a-sketch [wikipedia.org] drawings in the Wikipedia article don't match professional engineering documents? It looks like nobody is going to slip anything past you.

Re:Saving face (1, Offtopic)

Anachragnome (1008495) | about a year ago | (#44378873)

From The Gentleperson's Guide to Forum Spies:

"4. Use a straw man. Find or create a seeming element of your opponent's argument which you can easily knock down to make yourself look good and the opponent to look bad. Either make up an issue you may safely imply exists based on your interpretation of the opponent/opponent arguments/situation, or select the weakest aspect of the weakest charges. Amplify their significance and destroy them in a way which appears to debunk all the charges, real and fabricated alike, while actually avoiding discussion of the real issues."

http://cryptome.org/2012/07/gent-forum-spies.htm [cryptome.org]

Re:Saving face (-1, Offtopic)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#44378913)

I see. So you are standing by the graphical representation in Wikipedia as the basis for dismissing the engineering drawings in the Forbes article? (Your post does nothing in terms of providing evidence one way or the other, but simply acts as a distraction from the nonsense in your previous post.)

I'm happy to go with that, I hope you are.

Re:Saving face (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44378965)

The 'etch-a-sketch' drawing is from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Conceptual Site plan, you fucking moron.

http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/03/ff_nsadatacenter/all/1 [wired.com]

Why the geographical comparisons? (4, Insightful)

maynard (3337) | about a year ago | (#44377839)

This is a vast amount of storage. Obviously, the puzzle they've bought a data palace of a storage facility to assemble doesn't require indefinite storage for everyone. They're looking to cache everything they can get and then filter what's interesting. Maybe they have a range of target levels from indefinite storage of everything collected for one group, a year for another group, a month for a third group, a week for another, all the way down to a day or hours for the entire slush.

They don't need it all. They just need to run whatever algorithms they care about so they can toss whatever they think doesn't matter and keep what does.

Re:Why the geographical comparisons? (4, Interesting)

AHuxley (892839) | about a year ago | (#44377945)

The next step for the NSA is a small file for every human with enough space for a days internet links, chats, text for life.
That can bed expanded as they get politically active :)
The file per person would allow any persons digital life to be tracked back to the first 'connection' of interest.
In the past all that could be done was to track telephone numbers, fax, computer use and voice prints as found or via contact with a past person or group of interest.
The past sorting was very quick and left a very small amount of data to be sent to the US from any distant super computing location (UK, Australia)
ie the NSA is not after http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2013-06/24/gchq-tempora-101 [wired.co.uk] long term.
They don't want 'big' content long term, they need space for all your ip's used, ports, apps used keywords, links, times, locations, connections to people - all very tiny amounts of text like info for now ie the "initial filter" will go for your pic, movie, sound, text - not keeping it, but might give a facial recognition code string to everybody in the pic. You only need a good voice print every so often...
Data size has never been the issue, legality, domestic commercial 'help' have been.

Re:Why the geographical comparisons? (1)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#44378011)

Why the geographical comparisons?

I expect that it is because it makes it easier for people to relate to the enormous numbers being talked about while both innumeracy and illiteracy [theweek.com] are a problem.

I've used an example like that myself to explain to people why the lottery and gambling are nothing to pin your hopes on. (When they draw the ticket, it will be like randomly picking 1 person west of the Rhine/Mississippi to win. Are you that person?)

Re:Why the geographical comparisons? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44378093)

I've used an example like that myself to explain to people why the lottery and gambling are nothing to pin your hopes on.

I hope you get terminal cancer this year, you sorry piece of shit.

Re:Why the geographical comparisons? (1, Informative)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#44378265)

I would think you could get some assistance from one of these resources.

UK: Treatment for Gambling Addiction [castlecraig.co.uk]
UK: Mental health helplines [www.nhs.uk]

US: USA Local Problem Gambling Hotlines [about.com]
US: Mental Health [nih.gov]

CA: Problem Gambling Institute [problemgambling.ca]
CA: Mental Health [hc-sc.gc.ca]

AU: Problem Gambling [problemgambling.gov.au]
AU: Mental Health Services in Australia [aihw.gov.au]

I hope you get well soon.

Re:Why the geographical comparisons? (1)

qbast (1265706) | about a year ago | (#44378887)

Problem with this approach is that you don't know what will get defined as 'interesting' in 5 years. You filter out non-interesting data today and you won't have it when it becomes interesting again.

Ummmm.... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44377855)

You do know they lie for a living, right?

Re:Ummmm.... (4, Funny)

OhANameWhatName (2688401) | about a year ago | (#44378087)

You do know they lie for a living, right?

When did the NSA ever say they lied to the public?

You conspiracy theorist left wing radical communist marxist muslim fundamentalist terrorist!

Hoffa encased in carbonite? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44377883)

C3P0: Wonderful!

yotta data (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44377909)

Did anyone really believe the estimates of zettabytes and yottabytes of data? Even if they used tape it would be nearly impossible to order that much storage. An exabyte is still a lot. This doesn't change our need for these facilities to be dismantled.

estimates... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44377915)

An estimate is an estimate is an estimate. The only people who know for sure how much data they can store aren't telling. Wake me when you have some facts. Be wary of mis/disinformation, goes without saying. I expect they have the capability to store & sift MUCH more than they let on.

So, just how much will be needed? (1)

auric_dude (610172) | about a year ago | (#44377935)

House Mulls NSA Restrictions in Collecting Metadata http://defensetech.org/2013/07/24/house-mulls-nsa-restrictions-in-collecting-metadata/#more-21000 [defensetech.org]

Too bit for metadata, must be content too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44378355)

That works out at 1GB for 3 billion people on the planet who are online, or 10GB for each of 300 million Americans.

Say you visit 300 webpages a day, at 128 bytes per URL = 23 years of URLs logged for every person on the planet. 230 years for US only.
Or perhaps 50/50 weburls and instant messages, for 12 years for everyone on the planet, 120 years for US only.

I find it trouble that cold fjord (who I believe is a defense contractor lobbyist since he does the talking points the NSA puts out) is pushing the idea of 24/7 voice and video recording as if that's their future goal. Their current storage capacity is already far above the disclosed 'metadata' claims.

That 'boundless informant' leak showed 3 billion items of data per month on Americans, *not* including the metadata. So that will likely be bulk content data if those storage numbers are correct. It seems the NSA has some further truth issues to be resolved.

Why 24/7? (4, Insightful)

webdog314 (960286) | about a year ago | (#44377939)

I mean, sure, you could record a few million people sleeping for eight hours a day, or watching 4 hours of Simpsons reruns a night, but why? If you're recording the 1-2 hours most people spend on the phone a day (max), then 3 exabytes might actually work out okay.

Re:Why 24/7? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44378101)

General Cole is quoted as saying (I paraphrase slightly), "To find a needle in a haystack, it takes a very large haystack." And a very big computer, I might add. And that single needle will be next to impossible to understand, drowned out by the noise around it generated by all the surrounding similarly shaped needles that aren't quite as shiny, that *don't* stand out.

The more frightening the headlines about the size in exabites of aggregate data in a data center, the more secure we should feel. Peterson's Law states: the capacity to collect, house, and analyze more and more data will be matched by less and less understanding of, insight into, and usefulness of the data. In other words, the ROI (return-on-investment) is less and less. The problem is twofold: a. anyone who hasn't tried her hand at analyzing a large collection of data thinks that the set must tell us everything we need to know, and b. we do get glimpses of stuff we didn't know before -- or think we didn't know before and couldn't get without the terabytes of data we collected.

Re:Why 24/7? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44378377)

General Cole is quoted as saying (I paraphrase slightly), "To find a needle in a haystack, it takes a very large haystack."

So he's saying that life is like a box of chocolates?

Re:Why 24/7? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44378809)

It's all fun and games until you figure out who is paying the big computers.

planned for future (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44377949)

storage density will keep increasing, so the storage capacity of the facility will also grow proportionally.

Or this is a red herring and the real data center is elsewhere.

overload them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44377985)

Time to get everyone to post huge files of garbage. Let them store that.

Re:overload them (2)

Black Parrot (19622) | about a year ago | (#44378281)

Time to get everyone to post huge files of garbage. Let them store that.

I thought that's what we've been doing...

One billion (0)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about a year ago | (#44378023)

A billion dollars they're spending. The NIH, the people who fund research that is going to cure cancer, they had their funding cut about 1.5 billion.

Hey, NSA! I'm thinking highly unpatriotic, violent thoughts right now!

Re:One billion (2)

Nyder (754090) | about a year ago | (#44378039)

A billion dollars they're spending. The NIH, the people who fund research that is going to cure cancer, they had their funding cut about 1.5 billion.

Hey, NSA! I'm thinking highly unpatriotic, violent thoughts right now!

Well obviously Terrorist kill more then cancer.

Re:One billion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44378063)

Cancer is terrorism. QED

Re:One billion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44378289)

Cancer is intelligent design.

Yeah, I'll go there.

Thanks heavens for the experts (1)

OhANameWhatName (2688401) | about a year ago | (#44378051)

Even that reduced number struck Internet infrastructure expert Paul Vixie as high

My uneducated response was "Holy Fuck!". Lucky the experts were there to clarify.

You don't need PB or EB to store phone *records* (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44378059)

Sure, it would require a ridiculous server farm to store *recordings* of every phone call placed in the US, much less worldwide. Add emails, texts, IMs, etc., and the NSA would send hard drive prices through the roof all by themselves.

But phone *records* are another thing entirely. To store a record of every phone call (timestamps, caller number, recipient number, and maybe GPS) would only take roughly 30 TB a year (@ 500,000,000 calls placed each year). That's only about 2U worth of well-stocked NAS.

The footprint of the facility doesn't concern me as much as the extent of the NSA's authority. I'm all for stopping terrorism, but I'm not a fan of living in an Orwellian society, regardless how "safe" it makes us. Slippery slope arguments aside, concentrated power will *always* be abused, and dragnet programs can *never* make us 100% safe.

Re:You don't need PB or EB to store phone *records (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44378401)

it would require a ridiculous server farm to store *recordings*

I get your overall point, but storing audio is hardly ridiculous at this point in technology, and will be even less so in the future. Compression helps, obviously, and there really isn't that much data to every phone call you make.

Seems like rather strong proof (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44378067)

Let's just assume that the smaller number is correct: 3 exabytes of data. Let's also assume that it is correct that the capacity of this data center could store 24-hour surveillance of 1.5MM individuals for a year. Presumably conservative numbers, right? According to the "Global Terrorism Database" maintained by the University of Maryland, there were 5,008 terrorism incidents in 2011. But, nearly 85% of those attacks occurred in South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Only 12 occurred in North America. We had 92 in Western Europe, but most of those seem to be related to Irish separatist groups. According to the US State Department, not *one* American was killed within the US in all of 2011 (As a side note, this means that in addition to pepper spraying students, UC Davis police officers were responsible for more American deaths in 2011 within the US than all of the terrorists in the world combined.) The vast, vast majority of those attacks aren't happening in the G20 nations that seem to be marginally complicit with all of this. Hard to believe that we would need to have this sort of data storage to prevent these sorts of attacks. Per Wikipedia, there were 36,000 Taliban fighters in Afganistan in 2010. They were responsible for 386 attacks in 2010. I'd give them credit for all of the unattributed attacks worldwide during that time period, but doing so only bolsters my case. Let's assume that other terrorism organizations are equally as "efficient" as the Taliban, so 5008/386*36000, so that would predict that there were ~467K terrorists *worldwide*. So, the 3 exabytes of data is more than enough to store 24/7 audio and video surveillance of every terrorist, worldwide, for about 3 years. Now I don't have a tin foil hat, but it's hard to believe that we have a surveillance program capable of offering this sort of surveillance of every known terrorist worldwide... If we did, it probably wouldn't have taken so long to find Bin Laden. So, what then, might the NSA use all of this capacity for? One could argue that the NSA wouldn't store all of this data—they're just processing it—but I would only think that this would increase their capacity for surveillance.

wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44378105)

You don't need to store 30 frames per second video on people. Store 1 frame every 5 seconds, and you'll get the same information about people at 1/150th the scale of data saved. Even 5 seconds is too short. There's a kind of Planck scale for people - people can only move so fast in real life. Choose the interval so that you always get a shot of a person if the person has crossed the camera's field of view, in 95% of cases.

ONE WORD !! COMPRESSION !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44378221)

JPEG for video and ADPCM for audio !!

'nuf said !!

Get with the times, man !! Get !! With !! The !! Times !! This ain't the 80s !!

The answer is 42 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44378257)

That is 42 GB per american.

1 billion dollars is only 3$ a each though, so not too bad on that front.

It's not a conspiracy, it's a boondoggle. (5, Funny)

Black Parrot (19622) | about a year ago | (#44378315)

"NSA Utah" is an anagam for "anus hat".

More Slashdot misdirection BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44378367)

Who is suggesting the NSA wants to store vast amounts of useless video data? This is the classic STRAWMAN ploy.

Now the NSA is collecting increasing amounts of data mined from video sources, and every Xbox One console from Microsoft will be tracking every person that passes in front of the Kinect sensor system on a daily basis, but the mined information (like identity of person or vehicle, and times) takes a tiny amount of space.

Remember, the NSA facilities use the same hardware and software systems as Google. Everything Google does is designed to provide services to the intelligence community.

When the NSA does want to store video, it is from specific surveillance operations NOT universal surveillance, and the amount of such video is trivial to store.

What the NSA does want is the facility to automatically gather semantic data from general audio and video sources. So, phone calls are automatically transcribed to text as well as possible, even though the original audio is also stored. Experiments to extract data from video are ongoing. Obviously, most of this will be automatic face recognition.

The NSA is seeking to do two main things with their surveillance
1) gather blackmail material for future possible use in coercing well placed individuals. This is 99.99% of all targeted work by the NSA.
2) gather feedback on the current mindset of the population (or subsection of that population) to provide near instantaneous feedback on the effectiveness of ongoing propaganda campaigns in the mainstream media

There is nothing unusual in this operation. Intelligence agencies have always been used by those in power for these two main reasons. The fantasy that they chase criminals or foil plots is just hilarious.

The power elite care only about themselves, and their continued dominance. They spend your money building systems to keep themselves safe and secure. Your power elite see the power elite in other nations as the same tribe. It is YOU they see as different - it is YOU they see as a potential problem. It is you they need to control, so it is you they need to monitor.

The power elite have no morals and no conscience. For them, everything is a means to an end. The power elite are disgusted that you would sit back and let them rule over you, so they consider their contempt for you as a function and consequence of YOUR behaviour, not theirs.

Google and Microsoft, with their work for the NSA, are hoping once and for all to end any possibility that the system can ever be changed by grass roots leadership or activism. They are looking to create an eternal status quo, where the control of the sheeple from the top becomes flawless. Meanwhile, shills will work very hard to distract form the real story of NSA total surveillance of the entire population.

Re:More Slashdot misdirection BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44378563)

Posted and approved by our resident Slashdot misdirection BS Fed propaganda account - non other than Cold Fjord. Strawmen are his bread and butter...

272 Petabytes is dead on... (3, Interesting)

nbritton (823086) | about a year ago | (#44378433)

The claim that a years worth of phone calls is around 272 petabytes is dead on, it matches up perfectly with some back of the napkin calculations I did a while back based on a published report from the FCC[1]. Depending on the encoding bitrate, the range I had was 107 PB for 8 Kbps audio to 430 PB for 32 Kbps audio. 272 PB is about 20 Kbps, exactly in the middle...

http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=3871487&cid=44027425 [slashdot.org]

[1]: http://transition.fcc.gov/Bureaus/Common_Carrier/Reports/FCC-State_Link/IAD/trend605.pdf [fcc.gov]

The report only documents up to year 2000, but I presumed POTS service had leveled out with the emergence of VOIP and SMS messaging.

Re:272 Petabytes is dead on... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44378775)

is dead on, it matches up perfectly with some back of the napkin calculations

"dead on" and "back of the envelope" are idioms that do not go together. Or are napkins more accurate than envelopes? I never knew.

National Stupid Association (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44378471)

I feel sorry for the people who will have to go throught all this data.

Obviously the previous reports were wrong (1)

iYk6 (1425255) | about a year ago | (#44378583)

Obviously the previous reports were wrong. Anybody familiar with computers and storage space knew that the numbers reported by NPR and other "news" outlets were ridiculous. They were saying that the center would hold 5 zetabytes, and would only cost $1.2 billion! That's about 25 cents per TB.

Best I could tell, NPR et al misunderstood a Wired article from over a year ago. In the Wired article, somebody said that they would eventually like the processing power in the center to exceed 1 exaflops, and then maybe someday after that 1 zetaflops.

That's a LOT of porn. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44378617)

Subject said it all.

Depends.. (4, Interesting)

buss_error (142273) | about a year ago | (#44378637)

On what is kept. If it really is just the metadata and not the conversation, then the storage requirements are not all that large.

For Landlines, there is a unique identifier applied at the switch. I mis-remember what it's called, but in South Texas, it usually started with BAPA- blah blah blah for several digits.

For cell phones, there is the OMEI/UDID/ESN. Normally around 14 to 20 digits, usually 15.
Next, called number, same info.
Last, call duration.

I believe it's long been known that using particular words in a telephone conversation would raise a flag. I don't know if that's true or not. If so, lets consider this scenario:

Call metadata captured and stored - always.
Call voice session saved to a temporary storage area.
Call concludes.
Voice data is analyzed for key words using automation. (Think about when you call your credit card company, and can input your CC number by voice)
If no keyword flags are raised, delete the conversation after X time (or immediately, who knows?)
If keyword flag is raised, score by number of keywords, flag conversation for human review, preserve all data.
After human review, who knows?

What I think: If preserving our freedom comes at the price of invading all of our privacy, then the terrorists have been gifted with a victory they could have never won for themselves. We have destroyed our freedom with the illusion of security, and now have neither freedom nor security. To draw a parallel, how is having the TSA able to squeeze my balls protecting me? "Dude - don't touch my junk!"

Re:Depends.. (1)

some old guy (674482) | about a year ago | (#44378715)

Damn, no points to mod this up "insightful"

Maybe the kind of smoke and mirrors in TFA works on the uneducated and/or uninterested masses, but please don't try to bullshit a room full of engineers and scientists.

human nature (0)

Max_W (812974) | about a year ago | (#44378817)

There is a saying: "a translator always translates as it is profitable for the translator".

The same is with this data eavesdropping and collection. It may be used to collect and trade commercial secrets in order, well, to gain money.

The people, who open other people letters, were always considered sneaks and dastards. That is why it has always been necessary to obtain the specific court decision for each sustect to do it.

Was it really necessary to change it? The damage, which this global carpet-eavesdropping and voyeurism is creating for the moral image of the USA, is enormous. And also for the US companies.

terrible summary (1)

yarbo (626329) | about a year ago | (#44378939)

Did the author of the summary read the article? The article for some reason mentions individualized video feeds for every American which is unrealistic and nothing like the sort of thing anyone has said the NSA is recording. 12,000 PB is far, far larger than the 272 PB estimated to hold all US domestic phone calls for a year, plus the foreign and international calls (which people forgot the NSA captures).

I recommend people read the archive.org description of the problem of archiving phone calls [archive.org] (TL;DR 272 PB) and DJB's article on cryptanalysis (PDF) [cr.yp.to] (TL;DR NSA isn't stupid).
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