NSA collecting unimaginable quantities of mobile phone location data for guilt-by-association data-mining


According to The Washington post “The National Security Agency is gathering nearly 5 billion records a day on the whereabouts of cellphones around the world, …

5,000,000,000. Every day.

With just over seven billion people in the world, that means that there is a 5 in 7 chance, or 71.4%, that your cell phone is being tracked. Here’s another way of looking at it.
You are likely being tracked by the NSA 5 days of the week.

That’s right keep pushing, keep taking, keep pissing all over our rights and see what will happen.

Until you count it as 5 billion records. If you average ten texts/e-mails/calls/website visits/whatever on your phone that’s not the same as ten people, that’s just ten records being created and possibly tracked. If it’s something like 50 records a day now they’re looking at 100 million phones every day.

Add the fact that people can carry more than one phone, or that some people do not carry phones and the number of people becomes an irrelevant statistic that you probably shouldn’t even have bothered bringing to the party in the first place.

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… ascribe guilt to people based on whether they were in proximity to suspected terrorists.

I wonder what that would be like ?

GIBBS - “I would suggest that you should have a far more responsible father if they are truly concerned about the well being of their children. I don’t think becoming an al Qaeda jihadist terrorist is the best way to go about doing your business.”

So we have been been there … * done that *.

I think UMass-Dartmouth students overall need a serious review, given their proximity to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. I mean, they all went to the same college, they must have the same ideas.

The NSA … collects and keeps as many [records] as it can — 27 terabytes, by one account …

The location programs have brought in such volumes of information, according to a May 2012 internal NSA briefing, that they are “outpacing our ability to ingest, process and store” data.

This must be boilerplate language for “give us more money.” No one who has bought a hard drive recently would believe the NSA is having trouble storing 27 terabytes of data. Processing it, yeah, maybe, but not storing.

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Solution: Collect less data!

Why do I think they’ll never go for it?

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Solution: destroy the broken system.

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We’ll throw a hissy fit on the internet and gather 20 people wearing Guy Fawkes masks around parliament or something?


hmmm, yeah right.

and yet, nothing has been done.

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I’m sure that there is a lot of pure whining and posturing going on; but 27 TB of raw storage space is peanuts, 27TB on a suitably RAIDed setup with expansion room, hot spares, and backups starts to add up.

Now, if you want 27 TB of fancy database, doing enough IOPs to support a bunch of analysts and crawler programs hammering it, while new records are continuing to be added, and you want all that with appropriate backup, that really starts to add up.

The NSA probably has the black budget for it; but if you are doing analytics-creep stuff to a dataset, it isn’t a “Well, 27TB is 10 3TB HDDs, somebody go hit Newegg” type job.


NSA’s saving a lot of useless data. I’ve seen Breaking Bad- people who do naughty things routinely change phones.

You didn’t do so good in statistics class, did you?

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What makes you think they haven’t been put on the list.

5 billion records a day, even if it includes texts etc is still a lot of records. Basically, a huge archive that they can go back to whenever one of us does something they don’t like, so they can flag all our friends, family, coworkers, fellow commuters on the bus and everyone else that might be a ‘threat’.

This is complete insanity.


"27 terabytes of data"

at 64bits per data point that is only 400+billion(?) individual records. sounds like only one collection point. speaking of that, anyone wonder at the amount of government waste in duplication of effort by multiple ‘contractors’?

Well yes, its not 5 billion people, but the number of people does not become irrelevant just because it is an unknown quantity. I’d say that your conservative 100 million phones a day is pretty significant.

Edit: Now, this is not hard data, this is just speculation, but lets say we ascribe 3 cellphones per suspect, that means thy are tracking about 33 million people a day,

So is the amount of people suspected of actually committing terrorism as high as 33 million within the population that actually has cellphones?

Lets give 10 cellphones to each suspect per day, that still leaves 10 million suspects.

That’s the key isn’t it? you now have to track 10 million suspects around the world, and still believe that that’s only the people that are outside the united states.

I mean, I’m just ranting here but I would hope that suspects could be narrowed down to less than 10 million. Doesn’t it seem at first paranoid and then just plain lazy? Its a witch hunt.


The important question is: Who are those coporate partners?

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True. But it still boils down to this: you are being tracked. Without being suspected, accused or following due process in any way. Does it make any difference whether they track you once a day, once a week or once a month?