Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The NSA: They Collect Your Data

Image Credited to EFF
The NSA has been spying on us for 31 years. Now that this fact has been emphasized and made clearer, we have the chance to take action. The NSA has no right to just take a look at all our personal information, yet to the government it is completely legal. Though the NSA says that it will collaborate with the people of the USA, I don’t think anyone wants their personal information monitored regardless of how clean they are.

Recently the NSA opened a massive data center for all the data they plan to collect from the public. It is called the Utah Data Center. It has the capacity to hold 12 exabytes. Exabyte is a term not used very often, but it means 1 billion bytes (wikipedia). A standard computer can hold a few hundred or for a little more money one or two thousand but never before 1 billion. The data center can hold up to 12 billion bytes. The entire Earth uses approximately 11 exabytes in a month. That is saying all that the information in the world can be store in the Utah Data Center. No one knows how many centers like this exist around the globe. This means that the NSA has been collecting data from us and has been storing it in the data centers for who-knows-how-long. Further, how much data do they actually have, and who have they selected to follow? We don’t know.

I found a site which shows how our very clearly, but it is a parody, which means it can and probably has false information about what and who the NSA deals with. Despite its status as a parody it gives you an accurate depiction on what the government actually collect from you. The Domestic Surveillance Directorate (DSD), the name of the website, has used leaked information and some insight to create a list of things the government collects, such as emails, all texts, all online activity, all social media activity, etc. Your data goes to the person or thing you are sending it to, but also the NSA. The NSA sends it through a filtration system that pulls out data that contains anything from a list of “dangerous” words. This data is sent to humans for confirmation about it actually being a threat. If you are linked to the threat in any way, you are immediately put under surveillance. All your friends and family are put under surveillance. All the This is a process that happens every second. It is scary if you think. Somebody could be looking at your data. An article on Forbes suggests that this site is very accurate and though it’s not the actual NSA, it comes very close to the truth. It says most of their information comes from the many leaks in the past years. Besides all that, the site is very funny to read. It takes on the form of the NSA and becomes open.

The NSA claims on its site many things about the organization that I think are not true.
The site starts off by saying that our safety is their number one concern. This might be true, but as a price we have absolutely no privacy (NSA Website). On their website it says, "We will behave honorably and apply good judgment as we would if our activities were under intense public scrutiny." (NSA Core Values) Many people say if you are clean, you shouldn’t care. I, however, disagree. I don’t want anybody taking a look at my personal data. Does the current NSA represent this? It is a question think about. A bigger question is that: Is the government open to us fully. Meaning does the government ever fully tell us what is going on behind the scenes and to our information. The government has a lot of branches that deal with information, but do they actually tell us what they do with that? Do they sell it to ad companies for extra cash? In a memo in 2008 President Obama claimed that in his administration the government would strive to be more open and more collaborative to the general public. This has been evolving, but not as the president thought. The only way we are getting to know the government better is through the leaks not them actually giving us information. That is not the government being open it is citizens being concerned. Through the Snowden, Wikileaks, and Manning leaks we find that the government has many partners and they have been over-collecting and needed to cut off some countries from the data collection. Libya and Greece have been cut from data collection. The government isn’t being any more open in this administration than any other one. Don’t judge Obama because he still has three years to make the government open.

The NSA spies on us. They have been for years now. The difference? We now have the power to stand up and change this. If we all stand up we can achieve change. It is a democratic government and we have power. Just remember- Your data belongs to the NSA… You.

Video from EFF.org. This video is created using the opinions and facts from concerned citizens, actors, celebrities, activists, and legal experts. 

Update: November 14, 2013
Thank you all for reading and commenting on this blog post. The NSA has been spying on us and we need to tell them to stay in their limits. If we don't they will just keep invading our stuff in new a more creative ways. After reading an responding to comments to the post I believe I have gotten to see the NSA in a  different way. The fact that the NSA spy on us is a little disturbing, they really don't use it much against us and they run it through a filtering system, so it doesn't really matter unless the search for us or we put keywords in our data. Only a few creepy people search for people around them, and it is for the safety our country and family. Through the comments I've had to do some research, and I found out that the NSA doesn't say how long they will store our data. Though I think that they store it until their centers get full or they only store the suspicious data. Though your comments I've found some areas that needed clarification and areas that weren't included. I would like to just thank all those people who spent time reading and commenting on this blog. I would like to say that I love the blogging process and that facts can be passed around in an informal way and people can have an online conversation without having to exchange names, just opinions. I like the fact that anyone's opinion can be changed through this process. My opinion on the NSA has become a little  and I hope that other opinions were influenced by this post.


  1. Hi, Thank you for sharing this article I didn't know that the NSA has been spying on its own citizens for 31 years. Also I did not know that the NSA can hold more data then the world uses for a month. However have you ever asked yourself is it better to be spied on and stay safe, or be left alone and have more terrorist attacks. Also the government shouldn't spy on us but if they do will there be a limit to what they see. Thank you for sharing this article on the true intentions of the NSA I had never thought about the NSA the way you described it.

    1. Thanks supertarrier2017 for reading and commenting on this blog. I know that being spied on is that good and it does offer security to some degree, but as far as I know, every american does not have the skills or will to hurt the country. The NSA officer looking at the flagged data can see everything that is from or related to the author of the data. I am glad that you got a new perspective on the NSA.


  2. I enjoyed your blog which was very informative on the activities of the NSA however I did have some minor confusion and would like to clarify with you. i was wondering if you could add on something about what the NSA does with your information? in the video you provided it talked about how the NSA has bought peoples information off of big business. Does it also sell information to businesses? If not what do they do other than collect and monitor data? Overall I liked your blog and I think that you should write more about these topics since you prove to have very good research skills and you were able to provide a very good presentation complete with a video on the topic.

    1. Thanks for commenting and reading my blog post Sweet_T and thanks for the tip. I sure would like to elaborate. The NSA runs it through the filtration system and only takes the a look at the information tagged as a threat to the country or a terrorist organization. Then they process the information to see if it is actually a threat. All the information is held onto until more space needs to be made. The NSA claims that they don't sell our information, but personally I think in a time of need the NSA can and will sell our information for money. The NSA is made to intercept and decipher data that could be hostile and the work with the military to catch all the out-of-country terrorists. Security cameras in banks don't record your phone calls or take a look at your Facebook account. The monitor you to see if you do anything suspicious.


Our comments will be moderated, meaning someone will approve them before they appear. Please remember the authors are 9th graders, and have chosen a topic of interest to them to explore in more depth as it pertains to digital citizenship and media literacy.

Good comments
--are always related to the content of the post;
--consider the author and the purpose of the post;
--ask or answer a question;
--add meaningful information to the content topic;
--are constructively critical, and never hurtful;
--include personal connections to what the author wrote;
--follow the writing process.

We welcome your thoughtful contributions, especially those that might help us improve our work or expand our thinking on these topics.

If you choose the Anonymous option, please sign your name if comfortable. It is easier to respond to someone with a name. Thanks!