The Guardian recently released information indicating that the NSA stores vast amounts of our personal data in a repository codenamed, “Marina” and has the ability to look back over all our data for a year.
The Obama administration has repeatedly stated they are only keeping the data of people who they are intentionally targeting, but internal documents still reveal they are storing vast amounts of data.
The data that they are collecting can vary to include a user’s browser history, email, contact lists and possibly even account passwords. According to Guardian reporter James Ball:
“The Marina metadata application tracks a user’s browser experience, gathers contact information/content and develops summaries of target,” the analysts’ guide explains. “This tool offers the ability to export the data in a variety of formats, as well as create various charts to assist in pattern-of-life development.”
The guide goes on to explain Marina’s unique capability: “Of the more distinguishing features, Marina has the ability to look back on the last 365 days’ worth of DNI metadata seen by the Sigint collection system, regardless whether or not it was tasked for collection.” [Emphasis in original.]
Russell Brandom from The Verge explains more about Marina.
The Marina program had been mentioned in previous leaks, but the new revelations, pulled from an NSA training document, show how the data was centrally stored and managed. Much of the data is coming from previously reported programs, like PRISM’s bulk FISA orders or GHCQ’s undersea cable-tapping operations. Once collected, the data is put to build detailed graphs of a person’s known associates and social activity, a process referred to in the document as “pattern-of-life development.”
On an interesting side note, the NSA needs resources like electrical power and water to store all of our data. Rich Miller from Data Center Knowledge wrote, “The NSA is Baltimore Gas & Electric’s largest customer, using as much electricity as the entire city of Annapolis.”
Miller would also excerpted from the Baltimore Sun:
The NSA is already unable to install some costly and sophisticated new equipment, including two new supercomputers, for fear of blowing out the electrical infrastructure, they said. At minimum, the problem could produce disruptions leading to outages and power surges at the Fort Meade headquarters, hampering the work of intelligence analysts and damaging equipment, they said. At worst, it could force a virtual shutdown of the agency, paralyzing the intelligence operation, erasing crucial intelligence data and causing irreparable damage to computer systems – all detrimental to the fight against terrorism.
In order to deal with this issue, the NSA has searched for other areas to build data storage facilities, including like in San Antonio, Texas. This location is ideal for the NSA because it won’t suffer from the power constraints that Maryland poses due to Texas’ independent electrical grid.
This all raises a big question: do they really need ALL THIS STORAGE just to monitor “terror suspects?”
All the leaked documents plainly reveal this is just not all about terrorism, but meant to create the ability to monitor people, all of the time.
The good news is that all of the power, water and other resources it gobbles up creates an NSA Achilles Heel. Somebody has to supply all of it. And that means we can TURN IT OFF.
The time is now to stop the NSA’s spying. The Tenth Amendment Center has developed the Fourth Amendment Protection Act for state and local governments as the first step to fight back and protect our rights. Please contact your state legislators and urge them to introduce this bill.