Tuesday, 5 July 2016


STATEROOM - (SCS) Highly classified SIGINT collection programme to intercept radio, telecoms and internet traffic. Operated by the Special Collection Service (SCS) in U.S. Embassies and Diplomatic buildings worldwide, also in Embassies etc of FIVE EYES nations - usually under cover and not declared to diplomatic staff.


SPECIAL COLLECTION SERVICE/F6 - (CIA/NSA) Joint CIA/NSA clandestine eavesdropping program using surveillance and eavesdropping equipment. Due to advances in communications encryptions, the NSA needed a more aggressive approach than their traditional, passive listening role. With experience of clandestine infiltration operations worldwide, the CIA was the obvious partner of choice. Headquartered in Beltsville, Maryland the SCS nickname is the "Mission Impossible force". The headquarters contains a testing and engineering centre for espionage equipment, including a 'live room' where devices are tested in an environment simulating target insertion areas. SCS staff deploy to Embassies and Diplomatic Missions Worldwide to install, operate and service, then remove devices. Operations have ranged from the Cold War to the War on Terror. Code-name F6. Part of STATEROOM.


WINDSTOP - (NSA) Umbrella term for a group of data-collection programmes reliant on support and data from the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand under the FIVE EYES programme. A Washington Post article reported these programmes collected 181,000,000 records from the British collection point (Believed to be NIGELLA) in a thirty-day period in late 2012. See also INCENSER.


NIGELLA - (GCHQ) Code-name for GCHQ fibre-optic cable 'tap' at Skewjack Farm, Cornwall. Under the code-name GERONTIC, Cable & Wireless (Since bought by Vodafone) is an 'intercept partner'. Converging in Cornwall, Trans-Asian and Trans-Atlantic cables are used to access all traffic, sending it to nearby GCHQ Bude.

Monday, 4 July 2016


INCENSER - (GCHQ/NSA) bulk data collection programme accessing fibre-optic cable system code-name NIGELLA. Sub-programme of WINDSTOP.


POKERFACE – (GCHQ) Internet surveillance system relying on the removal of low-value traffic (LVT) to enable high-speed filtering and selection of high-value traffic (HVT). Using Massive Volume Reduction (MVR) to cut down on data bulk, the system searches for trigger words or 'selectors' - search terms, e-mail accounts, phone numbers, IP addresses etc. 40,000 of these 'selectors' were chosen by GCHQ, 1ith a further 31,000 by the NSA. Most of the information extracted is described as "content", such as recordings of phone calls or the substance of email messages. The rest is metadata.


TEMPORA - (GCHQ) Covert computer system used to buffer Internet communications extracted from fibre-optic cable tapping on cables entering/exiting locations including the United Kingdom and Cyprus. Tests began in 2008 and the system went operational in 2011. Large volumes of data are mined without any actual targeting. Existence leaked by Edward Snowden in 2013. Snowden alleges data collected by TEMPORA is shared with the NSA, a claim re-inforced by allegations this co-operation runs through WINDSTOP to be analysed using Xkeyscore and the GENESIS programming language. The system taps into some two-hundred cables in total, storing data in a buffer for retrospective analysis. Content is stored for three days, metadata for thirty days. TEMPORA also utilises bulk data from INCENSER.

The GCHQ cable-tapping operation has been built up over five years by attaching intercept probes to transatlantic fibre-optic cables where they land on British shores carrying data between Western Europe, Asia and North America. This was done under secret agreements with commercial companies, described in one document as “intercept partners” - http://www.dcssproject.net/tempora/#GUA01

These 'partners' are sometimes paid for their co-operation, but can be compelled to participate if they refuse. Intercept partners include;
  • BT (codenamed REMEDY)
  • Vodafone Cable (GERONTIC)
  • Verizon Business (DACRON)
  • Global Crossing (PINNAGE)
  • Level 3 (LITTLE)
  • Viatel (VITREOUS)
  • Interoute (STREETCAR)  

2013 Map showing undersea Fibre-Optic cables such as those exploited by TEMPORA.
One indication of the scale of TEMPORA - and GCHQ's collection operations in general is a statement from GCHQ lawyers to the effect that it would be impossible to list the total number of people targeted because "This would be an infinite list which we couldn't manage". The name TEMPORA may come from a 16th Century Latin adage from Germany; Tempora mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis, meaning "Times change, and we change with them".