"The world generated 161 billion gigabytes – 161 exabytes – of digital information" in 2006, according to the technology research company IDC. Brian Bergstein of the Associated Press explained, "That’s like 12 stacks of books that each reach from the earth to the sun." Although one researcher at the University of California maintained those figures should be taken "with a certain grain of salt, I don't think the numbers are going to turn out to be wildly off target."
It was reported in 2007, "IDC estimates that by 2010, about 70% of the world's digital data will be created by individuals. For corporations, information is inflating from such disparate causes as surveillance cameras and data-retention regulations. Perhaps most noteworthy is that the supply of data (161 exabytes in 2006 to not far from 1 zettabyte in 2010) technically outstrips the supply of places to put it." The analyst at IDC told the press, "If you had a run on the bank, you'd be in trouble. If everybody stored every digital bit, there wouldn't be enough room."
Back in August 2006, the Los Angeles Times editorial read, "Many Americans wouldn't be able to use the Internet without the virtual road map provided by search engines such as Google and Yahoo. As they use those sites, though, each inquiry discloses something personal they might not want to share. Something embarrassing, or worse, something misleading. AOL, the nation's biggest supplier of Internet access, made clear just how sensitive those inquiries can be earlier this month (back in August 2006).
"Hoping to aid software developers, the company released logs of about 20 million searches made by 658,000 subscribers from March to May (in 2006). Although numerical IDs were used in place of names, the queries often provided clues to the user's identity, interests and state of mind. The search records were available online for about a week before a few bloggers stumbled over them, triggering an outcry about privacy. AOL responded by yanking the records from its site, but by then it was too late – others on the Web were already making the records available to all comers...(AOL) did the rest of us a favor by showing the kind of information that search sites collect."
In another editorial about data retention published in March 2007, the Boca Raton/Delray Beach News observed, "With his almost stoic look at pro-active individual passivity in the chilling novel '1984', even George Orwell couldn't have imagined how far along we would actually come in selling our souls to what now can only be called the Database Deity. In Orwell's book, it was a dictatorial government keeping itself in power by causing citizens to believe the nation was always at war. It did so by constantly reinventing the ways in which language communicates reality – and, thus, changing the reality. Today (back in 2007), government has joined with commerce, and now we worship at the feet of the Database Deity. We cast data shadows and, Druid-like, gather in front of flickering candle monitors while information gleaned from these shadows is being stored in linked databases around the globe. Consider this: power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. That is a political maxim, uttered long ago, and now even easier to implement, given the blinding speed of our digital world."
A representative of the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington told The New York Times in 2006, "Data retention is an open-ended obligation to retain all information on all customers for all purposes, and from a traditional Fourth Amendment perspective, that really turns things upside down."
Frank E. Taylor worked as a telecommunications specialist with the United Kingdom's National Computing Center. In 1978, he reported in Computer World, "A final major factor that will almost certainly become important here (in the U.K.) in the future relates to the costs associated with data entry relative to those of data storage and data communications. In summary, data retention will probably increase in importance as it will reduce the need for general-purpose data entry involving keying, which is likely to become more and more expensive as staff costs rise. This may well be Europe's alternative to the specialized data entry methods that have gained favor in the U.S. It appears we may make a direct transition from today's (1978) general-purpose data entry methods such as direct data entry to wired data methods and the retention and communication of data within systems that will progressively reduce personnel requirements and improve system performance. Here, standards for open systems interconnection are vital."