NSA tapes 20 billion phone records Every Day, social media – Data Mining
Just how much data do we produce? A recent study by IBM estimates that humanity creates 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day. (If these data bytes were pennies laid out flat, they would blanket the earth five times.) That total includes stored information—photos, videos, social-media posts, word-processing files, phone-call records, financial records, and results from science experiments—and data that normally exists for mere moments, such as phone-call content and Skype chats.
The NSA controversy began when Snowden revealed that the U.S. government was collecting the phone-metadata records of every Verizon customer—including millions of Americans. At the request of the FBI, FISA Court judge Roger Vinson issued an order compelling the company to hand over its phone records.
On the heels of the metadata-mining leak, Snowden exposed another NSA surveillance effort, called US-984XN. Every collection platform or source of raw intelligence is given a name, called a Signals Intelligence Activity Designator (SIGAD), and a code name. SIGAD US-984XN is better known by its code name: PRISM. PRISM involves the collection of digital photos, stored data, file transfers, emails, chats, videos, and video conferencing from nine Internet companies.
In late July Snowden released a 32-page, top-secret PowerPoint presentation that describes software that can search hundreds of databases for leads. Snowden claims this program enables low-level analysts to access communications without oversight, circumventing the checks and balances of the FISA court. The NSA and White House vehemently deny this, and the documents don’t indicate any misuse. The slides do describe a powerful tool that NSA analysts can use to find hidden links inside troves of information. “My target speaks German but is in Pakistan—how can I find him?” one slide reads. Another asks: “My target uses Google Maps to scope target locations—can I use this information to determine his email address?” This program enables analysts to submit one query to search 700 servers around the world at once, combing disparate sources to find the answers to these questions.