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Utah Data Center (wikipedia.org)
40 points by corrupt_measure on May 29, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 19 comments

I live in Utah. A common joke working at tech companies is that we don't need backups, because we can just hop over to the NSA Data Center and have them throw it all onto a hard drive for us.

Another Utahn here. Fascinating that they codenamed it "bumblehive". The Utah territory was named "Deseret" when the Mormon settlers arrived. Deseret is believed to mean Honeybee in an ancient language and was chosen to represent industriousness.

The beehive is also Utah's state emblem.


Believed by whom?

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I can see why they think that, but we really don't know the full etymology: https://knowhy.bookofmormoncentral.org/knowhy/where-does-the...

> When the Brother of Jared and his companions traveled, they “did also carry with them deseret, which, by interpretation, is a honey bee” (Ether 2:3). This is the only time in the Book of Mormon where the text gives a definition for a Jaredite word. But it has proven difficult to know where in the ancient Near East the word came from. “Until possible language affinities for Jaredite names can be determined, all suggestions for etymologies of Jaredite names must remain more speculative than substantive.” In addition, the word “deseret” does not translate as “bee” in any known ancient Mesopotamian language.

Never ceases to amaze me how this was normalized and accepted. The general public instantly flipped from "that's just a conspiracy theory," to "yeah, they collect everything, but I've got nothing to hide!" and "oh well, what can you do about it?"

Well they obviously don't "collect everything" because this one tiny datacenter wont hold "everything". This datacenter is 60MW in capacity, or something like 1-5% as large as Google's aggregate capacity, where Google itself is also a small fraction of global datacenter capacity. We can also safely assume that, like all other government datacenters, the PUE at this facility is terrible, and I would feel safe in further assuming that storage efficiency at this agency is not state of the art. Considering all these factors, I think this facility is between 1000 and 1000000 times too small to contain "everything".

Obviously they're probably not recording all the packets from when I watch TWIN PEAKS on Amazon Prime, though I wouldn't be surprised if they track viewing habits somehow. "Everything" is meant to mean all phone calls, texts, emails, contact lists, and probably posts to certain social media sites and forums. Anything potentially useful in building a behavioral profile of a target based on past behavior.

You are radically underestimating the size of email as a global corpus, to say nothing of phone calls.

Not even with nearline, or offline storage with M-DISCs organized in cassette/magazine-systems, handled by robots?

Which are located right around the corner, btw.


Yes, yes, i know, conspiracy theory, also bankrupt!

But funny coincidence, isn't it? :-)

Eventually you realize the general public opinion is almost always the path of least resistance. Whatever explanation/justification takes the least amount of effort is what they'll go with.

"If it was wrong, someone would be doing something about it."

Oh yes, I vividly remember debating the program on Facebook with some Obama fans who insisted, "he's a good person, so he must have seen something to convince him this is necessary!"

This odd thread sparks my memory on another story about data centers that I came across -- how railroad history determines where data centers tend to be located in the US:


I wonder if this US Govt data center ties into / depends on the Union Pacific trunk(?) fiber lines?

For a broader view on this topic, I recommend "A Prehistory of the Cloud"

Thanks for that suggestion! Can be downloaded free from here, which is great: https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/book/7288688

I wonder about how much of my information is contained here. Maybe I can ask them for my info if I lose it and use them as a free backup service? /Sarcasm

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