The Panama Papers controversy is a crazy phenomenon. It is arguably the best example of the power of information technology. The Panama Papers is the single largest data leak in human history. The Panama Papers consist of 2.6 terabytes of information—to put that into perspective, I Googled how many gigabytes were in 2.6 trillion terabytes, and Google didn’t even answer me. The next largest offshore data leak is just less than a quarter of its size, which itself is slightly larger than the infamous Snowden leaks.
As this article states, the Panama Papers consist of 11.5 million emails, passport scans, contracts, share registers and even sound recordings that incriminate businesses around the world for hiding illicit funds in offshore tax havens.
The Panama Papers is not only the largest data leak in history, but also the largest collaboration of journalists and news outlets that we’ve ever seen. I think that anyone interested in news journalism should just pause to appreciate the scale of this leak, and what it means going forward.
We’re only on the cusp of the Digital Age. These journalists have been using a bad ass machine to scan physical copies of incriminating files in order to upload the text content into a searchable and duplicable, computerized database. Okay, it was just software, but look at what it was called: Apache Solr. Get my point?
Just how much data will we be capable of processing in the future? And what does this mean in an age where online data is instantly replicable and easily dispersed to others?