NSA drowning in overcollected data, can't do its job properly


NOW is the time to break out those old ECHELON lists of trigger words and SPAM them everywhere to overload the functional part of the NSA and drown them in false postives.

Seriously, fuck the NSA.


I weep for the NSA. Maybe they’ll learn not to overcollect.


The nature of much of the NSA’s signals intelligence work – outside of codebreaking – is attempting to work with huge collections of raw data. That means a lot of what they’re going to be doing is collecting a metric shitload of information, trying extraction algorithms against them, finding out that they haven’t yet got anything useful, and repeating the process.

And I’d bet they have the same problem many collectors and museums do – having gone to the trouble of acquiring something, it’s very hard to declare that it’s obsolete and uninteresting and that you really can deacquisition it without being accused of failing your mission.

In other words: This sounds like exactly what I would expect business-as-usual to be at the NSA. I really don’t find it surprising.


There’s probably also some degree of separation between team analysis and team acquisition… Especially if you don’t know beforehand what will turn out to be useful (but also if your job is getting data from everywhere, and you intend to do it with zeal, or if you are some creepy TIA-holdover who wishes to establish that they have the right to all the data, all the time), you just go out and start hitting likely targets.

I’d assume that the analysis side makes requests, if they feel that something specific is missing; but the tapping side probably ends up tapping a lot of stuff because they can, and only after the analysis side has started to thrash around and making gurgling noises is it concluded that they might be drowning themselves in noise.


I’m curious what tangible thing in the past can they point to and say, look, this happened or was prevented because we collected it. Anything in the last 3 years? 5? 10? 15 or 20?


That’s the problem… they can’t be fucked.


of course they cant process it. Morons.


It can’t possibly be the case that the NSA is gathering more data than it can analyze, because a federal judge has just decreed that everything the NSA is doing is effective in combating terrorism. Are we really going to believe these “whistleblowers” over this judge? (This message brought to you by the NSA.)


Individuals refusing to chuck things out ‘in case they come in useful some day’, regardless of what they’re collecting, or whether or not it affects somebody else’s privacy.

Don’t we call them hoarders?

Perhaps they need professional help. Perhaps they need somebody to go into their house and gently force them to get rid of a boatload of stuff they really don’t need. It could be made into a TV series. I think there are many other organisations which suffer the same pathology.


Problem there is this is only a few weeks after a different judge found that the NSA couldn’t back up it’s claims of having been helpful in dealing with terrorists and questioned the constitutionality of it’s actions.

Parkinson’s law (or at least one of its corollaries like ‘Data expands to fill the space available for storage’) seem to apply.

EDIT: typos. 22 words, still typos.

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Next episode:

Bob has collected more than 1250 Terabites of accidental porn, he cant even update his OS anymore…



Maybe some smart person over at the NSA could, I dunno, program some sort of virus or worm to go through the databases and destroy them…nudge, nudge, wink, wink


gigo !!

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As a storage admin, all I can think is “man, their storage budget must be freakin’ enormous.” I wonder what they’re putting it all on–I suspect Isilon, but I guess it could be some kind of home brew stuff. At that scale, HDFS certainly doesn’t make sense from a money point of view; 3 copies of everything would be prohibitively expensive. Same with most other trendy new storage.

How long until something like Jepoardy’s Watson is going through all the data? I’d guess -2 years. Now “who is most likely to attack the USA?” is a ask able question. The down side is “What illegal activities is my neighbor doing?” Is also ask able. After the 2nd question is answered, it is a slippery slope to then ask a bank how little can I buy the house next door for…

theyve prevented a lot of peace and national humility from breaking out.

fortunately, Snowden.


I suspect the NSA already owns the house next door to the NSA, and has them under surveillance.

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