R. Fink | Data storage nothing to sneeze at

The Packet Rat'commentary | Here's a tip: Invest in the stocks of storage technology companies

GCN File

THE RAT is frequently asked by addled investors ' for only the truly addled would look to a six-foot-tall anthropomorphic rodent for investment tips ' what tech stocks they should buy. And after he's done rolling his eyes and generally berating them for not following his stuff-it-in-the-mattress Thrift Savings Plan, he says, quite simply: 'Storage.'

The European Commission ensured that demand for storage technology will remain perpetual when, in early February, a measure was introduced to the European Parliament to require that visitors from outside the European Union be fingerprinted and have their pictures taken. The images will be stored in a pan-European database.

This follows similar programs in the United States and Japan and measures in many countries to track financial transactions, travel itineraries and express-mail packages.

'At some point, everything we do will be a data point in some vast network of databases,' the Rat said to a baffled would-be billionaire at a recent financial planning brown-bag.

'Every time I sneeze on the Metro, it's going to take up 50 kilobytes of storage somewhere.

'And then they're going to have to have multiple backup copies of that sneeze, including other video camera angles, and they're going to have to retain all of that for 20 years, just in case someone catches Ebola from my sinus discharge. In the course of one allergy attack, I'll have laid claim to a couple of gigabytes of storage somewhere.'

'They track sneezes?' the perplexed pension planner asked with a subtle wipe of his nose.

'They will,' the cyberrodent assured him. 'And trips to the bathroom, too, to make sure you're not attempting a denial-of-service attack on vital public infrastructure. And your phone bill, so they can execute that Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant without actually having to ask the phone company. And your Web browser history, to make sure you're not using our agency network for personal use. And how you invest, to check dynamically for conflicts of interest and insider trading.

And so on.... Eventually, the amount of data they collect will take up so much storage that the data centers will have to be placed in orbit to deal with the cooling and power requirements.'

Shifting from perplexity to paranoia, the would-be investor took a different tack. 'So, tell me about this stuff-it-in-the-mattress TSP.'

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