What does this look like to you? Let’s look at the picture painted, shall we?
- Massive industrial buildings
- Parking lot appears to be a short hike away from the building itself
- Middle of buttfuck nowhere.
- Lots and lots of electricity poles going everywhere
So, what do you think it is?
- Secret NASA shit
- Nuclear plants
- A massive data center that will monitor everything you do
If you guessed number three, BINGO! You are a winner. This is the new pride and joy of the Director of National Intelligence, the Utah Data Center.
First, let me give you a bit of a background on myself. I work in IT, however, it’s not really a “normal” IT life of fixing client side and network issues. Specifically, I’m a SAN (Storage Area Network) engineer. A SAN is essentially the back-end environment that houses data at a block level. This means that a SAN allows basic users to access massive data storage devices, and it simply shows it as an additional logical device (like your C:/ drive on your computer, except it would be whatever letter is mapped to it). Delving a little deeper, I specialize in NAS (Network-Attached Storage) devices, which are devices that are used specifically to speed up file transfers, provide easier administration, etc. I also am (relatively) skilled in VMware environments, replication, and performance analysis of subsystems.
In a nutshell, while I’m not going to disclose where I work, or the clients I work with on a daily basis, I’m blabbing about all this to show where I’m coming from. I work in environments that are extremely large-scale and expensive. Nowadays, data centers at the HIGHEST level (think Google, Microsoft) cost about $500 million. Check out this article for a further breakdown.
The Utah Data Center costs $1.5 billion.
Read that again. Let me spell that out for you. One and a half billion dollars. I understand what the pricing in this industry is, and that is a jaw-dropping figure. That is three times as large as some of the largest data centers in existence, run by the giants of the technology and banking industries. Why so pricey? Well, the Utah Data Center can support zettabytes. For reference…
1,073,741,824 terabytes = 1 zettabyte
Over a billion terabytes. The majority of laptops come with about 250GB (1/4 of a terabyte). Hell, I’m a techy person and I don’t even have a full terabyte installed in my machine. The point I’m trying to make is, that is a TON of data. Here’s why. Check out the list of things that will be monitored:
- internet searches
- websites visited
- emails sent and received
- social media activity (Facebook, Twitter, etc)
- blogging activity including posts read, written, and commented on – View our patent
- videos watched and/or uploaded online
- photos viewed and/or uploaded online
- mobile phone GPS-location data
- mobile phone apps downloaded
- phone call records – View our patent
- text messages sent and received
- Skype video calls
- online purchases and auction transactions
- credit card/ debit card transactions
- financial information
- legal documents
- travel documents
- health records
- cable television shows watched and recorded
- commuter toll records
- electronic bus and subway passes / Smartpasses
- facial recognition data from surveillance cameras
- educational records
- arrest records
- driver license information
Now, what are they going to do with all that? They are hoping to reveal any potential plots by monitoring all of this data and trying to pick things out. Now, I have no knowledge of the likely incredibly complex algorithms and back-end programming that goes into sorting and sifting data. While I have no doubt that the data of mine that is being logged is highly encrypted and secure in the data center, it’s still bothersome that everything I do online is being monitored. Why not just mandate a law that all users must have a keylogger installed on their computer, and, while we’re at it, how about I just send you a daily report of everything I’m doing. That would make things easier without needing a $1.5 billion data center, wouldn’t it?
Another flaw: what is being done about data in OTHER countries? While I’m not denying that there are plenty of Americans that want to hurt fellow Americans, it wouldn’t be hard to argue that other countries probably dislike us even more so. Last I knew, the Internet was the WORLD WIDE WEB. Not the World Wide Web of America. How are potential threats to our country from outside of our own boundaries being monitored? I know what $1.5 billion buys you in this industry, and I guess I feel like that’s a shit load of money to pay and then not be able to monitor international threats. Are we, as a country, that powerful, that we’re simply getting away with it? Looking at this site, it looks like that’s the case.
In today’s world of social media, it’s not like we have any privacy anyway. I’d say that I’m hoping not to get an official government warning for writing this post, but the Utah Data Center probably knew about this post while it was still in draft form.
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