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An Echelon BOTEC.
Ever wondered how much of the world's telecommunications traffic
Echelon is capable of harvesting? Fans of the back-of-the-envelope
calculation are ever on the lookout for obscure numerical facts and
rules of thumb to rub together. Today's
Post article on the overhaul of the NSA dropped this nugget:
[NSA's] collections systems scoop up enough data every three hours to
fill the Library of Congress.
Three years ago the Morrisons estimated the Library's holdings (excluding
movies) at 20 terabytes -- see
The Sum of
Human Knowledge? in the July 1998 Scientific American. From that
same rich article we learn that speech telephony, worldwide, amounts to a
few exabytes per year (i.e., a few million terabytes).
So if the NSA is capable of intercepting and storing 6.6 terabytes per hour,
what fraction of the world's real-time telephony is that?
About one part in five.
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