The latest in the growing PR campaign trying to sell the American public on broad surveillance of their day-to-day activities came in the form of a newly released NSA document which sought to downplay the scope of the Internet surveillance.
The document opens with a “prologue” citing 9/11 as justification for any and all surveillance and claiming that if only the NSA had the unchecked powers of today it would’ve prevented such attacks.
The predictable narrative really breaks down on the revelation that “only 1.6%” of all daily Internet traffic is covered by the surveillance, which is a huge amount in the grand scheme of things, despite the NSA’s likening its surveillance to a dime on a basketball court.
But all Internet traffic is not created equal. In the United States Netflix is literally 1/3 of the Internet’s bandwidth usage. Other video services are a big chunk as well. The amount of the Internet that is streaming services is only growing over time.
But if 10,000 people are watching a 4 GB baseball game, it’s silly to expect that the NSA would be directly surveillng the identical data 10,000 times as it i sent about. It’s unlikely they even “touch” the data itself once, because they don’t need to to know what you’re doing.
10,000 baseball watchers is 40 TB of data, but a list of 10,000 IP addresses of people who watched a baseball game is less than a single MB of data. We’re not even talking 1.6% here, we’re talking 0.0000025%. That’s much less than the NSA is taking credit for, and it’s literally everything they could possibly know and abuse.
Total informational awareness doesn’t require the NSA to touch 100% of the Internet’s daily traffic, or even 1.6% of it. Indeed 1.6% is dramatic overreach that suggests they are incredibly inefficient at what they call “connecting the dots” and are hoping that things they miss the first few times will eventually get noticed.