Even within the infrastructure of the American surveillance apparatus, the National Security Agency is notoriously secretive. The spy agency jealously guards from public view practically all aspects of its operations, from the information it collects to its plans for a massive 100,000-square-foot building being constructed in the Utah desert.
But when it comes to the agency’s primary tool for making sense of all that data, the NSA hasn’t been secretive at all. Indeed, two years ago, it made public the very code for a key program it uses to analyze the firehose of information pouring into its computer servers.
The NSA’s decision to give away that code to developers has helped fuel what is now a booming trend in technology known as “big data.” The technology, Accumulo, makes it possible for companies to sift through massive amounts of information with essentially the same degree of sophistication and security as the country’s top spy agency.
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