What could the NSA do with 1 yottabyte?

I had never heard of a yottabyte or a yotta anything before I read an article about the NSA’s new data storage facility in Utah. The recent revelation that the government actually had access to the telephone, television, and internet networks, something that anyone who worked on a telecom product or for a telecom company has known for the last 30 years (that ability is actually part of many telecom standards), it seemed reasonable that the government might be recording stuff. The only revelation is really how much data they can store.
One yottabyte is 10 to the 24th power bytes. Let’s see what could fit into that storage. For simplicity I will assume one year of data for each example.
1. Phone call meta data: Assuming there are 3 billion calls per day and each meta data record is 100 bytes that would yield 1.1e+14 (that means 1.1 times 10 to the 14th power) bytes/year. So that accounts for .00000001% of the storage.
2. Actual phone calls: Assuming 15% of the public is on the phone at any one time, and 33% of those are talking to someone outside the U.S. That would yield 10% of 350 million calls at 8 kB/s = 8.83e+18 bytes/year or about .001% of the storage. That is EVERY phone call in to, out of, and within the U.S.
3. Video feeds: This is more difficult but lets assume there are 10 million video feeds in the U.S. (including security cameras, intersection cameras, broadcast TV, Radio, private and public video conferencing etc.). If each video feed is 1 MB/sec (standard definition quality) you get a total of 3.15e+20 bytes or 0.03% of the storage.
4. Internet meta data: This is the latest revelation – the NSA wants the source and destination IP address of every packet on the internet. Here I will assume some degree of filtering but let’s assume 200 bytes per record and an average of 1 record per second per person. This would yield 2.2e+21 bytes/year or 0.2% of the storage. They would basically know every webpage every person ever visited.
5. Text messages: Estimates are there are 2.5 billion text messages sent per day in the U.S. Assuming each is about 200 characters, that yields a measly 1.8e+14 bytes/years. Not even worth mentioning.
So what is the NSA putting in that storage given that if one year’s worth of all text, phone calls, video, and internet metadata account for not even 1% of the capacity of their facility.

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