Stephen E. Arnold: NSA as Poster Child for the Problem of Big Data

Corruption, Government, Idiocy, Ineptitude, IO Impotency, Military
Stephen E. Arnold
Stephen E. Arnold

NSA drowns under an ocean of data

Would rather drown in rising tide of pornography

All is not well in the land of US spooks despite them having access to all the data on citizens that they can eat.

William Binney, creator of some of the computer code used by the National Security Agency to snoop on Internet traffic around the world, has warned that the agency knows too much.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the NSA can’t understand the data it has because it has too much to do anything useful with it.

Binny said that the NSA’s addiction to data had made it dysfunctional and the agency is drowning in useless data.

He described an agency where analysts are swamped with so much information that they can’t do their jobs effectively, and the enormous stockpile is an irresistible temptation for misuse.

His warning mirrors concerns shown in the Snowden documents. An internal briefing document in 2012 about foreign mobile phone location tracking by the agency said the efforts were “outpacing our ability to ingest, process and store” data.

In March, some NSA analysts asked for permission to collect less data through a program called Muscular because the “relatively small intelligence value it contains does not justify the sheer volume of collection”.

Phi Beta Iota: We’ve known since at least 1990 that NSA has been obsessing on collection and failing to process what it collects. The generally recognized number is 5% processed. NSA has been lazy and has lacked strategic direction — it has lacked integrity at the highest levels. At some point, as the US Government finds that it cannot afford to borrow a trillion a year or waste 50% of the federal budget on pork, pressure is going to rise for a fact-based redesign of the US Intelligence Archipelago. There are no winners — from HUMINT/OSINT to NSA to the NRO/NGA to the impoverished analysis at all four levels (strategic, operational, tactical, technical) — there is no good news. [Yes, we recognize that there have been successes — a dead clock tells the correct time twice a day — in the context of what is needed, US Intelligence continues to fail the Republic.

See Also:

Big Data @ Phi Beta Iota

NSA @ Phi Beta Iota