Former NSA employee and current whistleblower William Binney has released information at a London conference organized by the Center for Investigative Journalism which alleges that the NSA collects, stores, and analyzes 80 percent of all phone calls made in the United States on a daily basis.
This statement comes in direct contrast to the original documents provided by one Edward Snowden, which suggested that of the three billion phone calls made in the United States each day, only around 30 percent were recorded at all, and even then only metadata and bits and pieces were extracted from that pool, rather than the entirety of the conversations themselves.
Binney also doesn’t help his own case by injecting a healthy dose of his own politics and speculations into the statement, claiming that the NSA is out for “total population control”, rather than just the hunt for terrorists in the interest of national security.
“The ultimate goal of the NSA is total population control,” Binney said, “but I’m a little optimistic with some recent Supreme Court decisions, such as law enforcement mostly now needing a warrant before searching a smartphone.”
Both the Snowden documents and various other sources have confirmed that while the agency would like the ability to record and store the content of all these calls, the storage capacity required to do so would be so immense that it would be nearly impossible to hide from the rest of the world without getting noticed.
A user from Reddit was kind enough to do the math on the issue, working out that at a conservative estimate of 3/kpbs and 3 minutes per call, the NSA would need 670TB per day every day to store the amount of data referred to in the RT article.
While the construction of the Utah data center would certainly suggest they would have this much capacity available to them (along with collected reports on rises in storage price during its building period from companies like Seagate and Western Digital), this doesn’t take into account the swaths of other information the agency needs to gather from other areas like Internet searches, email, and text messages.
Overall, while the report itself does look credible, without hard documents to back his statements up it seems as though most of his information is based on assumption, rather than firsthand experience. Plus, while it wouldn’t be so out of the ordinary to guess the NSA is storing much of this information, the resources to actually go through each individual communication would be immense, far beyond the prowess of one of the most extensive and elaborate surveillance operations seen to date.
And so it seems that for the time being, the report should be agreed upon with caution, as not only is the whistleblower someone who supposedly retired from the agency in 2001, but also the fact that RT is the main source for the news should raise eyebrows due to their related…political affiliations, as it were.