Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Reimagining The NSA As A Hybrid Public/Private Platform For New Jobs And Businesses

Posted by Tom Foremski - July 1, 2013

The National Security Agency could be rejigged as a self-funded entity fulfilling its missions while saving taxpayers billions of dollars and also providing them with a host of useful services. 

Its substantial computing platform and its superior security knowledge could jumpstart new jobs and businesses if the agency had a commercial arm.

 

The NSA is interested in the tiniest fraction of the data it collects, the bits about finding terrorists. The rest of the data is useless to it but it keeps it anyway. It's a highly valuable resource to others. 

Here are some business ideas:

- A Web Services Suite for consumers that includes, virus protection, data backup services of all client computers and devices and online data lockers; unlimited dropbox-like data storage in the cloud; free banking software; unlimited email accounts; unlimited VOIP calls; and a personalized VPN protecting users from snoopers, would be a killer package. The NSA Security suite could get away with charging a premium monthly fee for the service because of its stellar pedigree. 

There are other services it could offer:

- Host IT services. It clearly has all the APIs needed to link up with hundreds of thousands of businesses and financial institutions and is able process mountains of Internet data in real-time. There is no business in existence today that can do that.

- It could sell incredibly detailed analytics reports on the planet's commerce, what the billions are buying and thinking. And economic data to help governments keep their countries healthy.

- There might be legal protection for NSA customers from private lawsuits and police investigations. Since NSA cannot secretly collect information on US citizens therefore any court orders to search through its databases and collect information on citizens would require breaking the law and impossible to fulfill.

The NSA wouldn't need to spy on its own consumer or business clients since anyone with something to hide would never buy or use any NSA services, even if they were free or saved them a bunch of money. The agency could focus its resources on other people and thus help fulfill its mission faster.

- Also, the NSA archives are undoubtably the single largest collection of archeological data that anyone has ever collected. It documents in raw form our collision with the Internet Age, a media age extraordinaire.

The data  would offer a tremendous insight into our collective nature, an aggregation of how people behave, and how they change, across an enormous scale.  It must be incredible treasure trove of data, and it would allow sociologists and anthropologists to draw a far more accurate picture of humanity than we have today.

That mass of data hides a map of our social genome, those long double-twisted chains of memes and stories that shape each of us as distinctly as our DNA gives us form.

It might even reveal a key code that governs our nature and can help unlock new abilities. Yet the NSA just sifts for a very narrow range of human behaviors – all negative.

Here are some marketing slogans for the NSA, which could be used sell services or perk up its image:

"We've got your back."

"You're welcome."

"We're always watching out for you."

"We know what you did last summer."

"Speak freely -- it's your right."

"Free speech is nothing if no one listens."

"$19 a year for unlimited data storage, emails, and phone calls."

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