The NSA Could Have Stopped Snowden If It Had More Bandwidth


An exclusive report from Reuters details how at the base in Hawaii where Edward Snowden was assigned, plans to install “anti-leak” software were delayed because the facility did not believe they had sufficient bandwidth to ensure its effective operation.

It’s fitting that the agency would have a bandwidth issue. The biggest revelation from the Snowden leaks was that the agency intercepts 1.7 billion Internet communications every day, a feat that requires a tremendous amount of bandwidth.

In June, we reported on the super facility the agency has in Utah, which can hold 5 zettabytes of information. (1 zettabyte = 1 billion terabytes = 1 trillion gigabytes.) With just 1 zettabyte (1024 exabytes) of space, the NSA can store a year’s worth of the global Internet traffic (which is estimated to reach 966 exabytes per year in 2015).

Apparently, the NSA’s Remote Operations Center in Hawaii where Snowden worked didn’t have that same capacity, and because the anti-leak software had not been installed, within a few weeks of working there, Snowden was able to collect a treasure trove of information and traipse out the door with it, stealing away to Hong Kong before eventually settling in Russia.

An NSA spokesperson told Reuters that the agency has since stepped up its efforts to safeguard its information.

These revelations come on the heels of news that Snowden’s boss at the CIA in 2009 wrote a negative report on him that described a sudden change in demeanor and an interest in gaining access to files that he had no business looking at. That report apparently fell through the cracks.

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