NSA information decoded: Edward Snowden’s surveillance revelations defined | US information

NSA information decoded: Edward Snowden’s surveillance revelations defined | US information


Two components opened the way in which for the fast growth of surveillance over the previous decade: the concern of terrorism created by the 9/11 assaults and the digital revolution that led to an explosion in cellular phone and web use.

However together with these applied sciences got here an extension within the NSA’s attain few within the early Nineties might have imagined. Particulars that previously may need remained personal have been all of the sudden there for the taking.

Chris Soghoian

Principal technologist, ACLU

NSA is helped by the truth that a lot of the world’s communications site visitors passes by the US or its shut ally the UK – what the businesses confer with as “home-field benefit”. The NSA has its personal cable-intercept applications tapping site visitors flowing into and throughout the US. These function primarily beneath 4 codenames — BLARNEY, FAIRVIEW, OAKSTAR and STORMBREW — and are collectively referred to as Upstream assortment.

The Snowden paperwork present that the NSA runs these surveillance applications by “partnerships” with main US telecom and web corporations. A few of these relationships return many years, others are newer, within the wake of 9/11 and with the expansion of the web.

The division contained in the NSA that offers with assortment applications that concentrate on personal corporations is Particular Supply Operations, described by Snowden because the “crown jewels” of the NSA.

In a single prime doc, printed right here for the primary time, SSO spelled out the significance of those industrial relationships which come beneath the heading “Company Accomplice Entry”.

In bald phrases, it units out its mission: “Leverage distinctive key company partnerships to realize entry to high-capacity worldwide fiber-optic cables, switches and/or routes all through the world.”

Paperwork obtainable within the desktop model of this interactive or at
The NSA Recordsdata hub.

Jeremy Scahill

Nationwide safety journalist

In addition to fiber-optic cables within the US, the NSA has entry to information gathered by shut intelligence companions akin to Britain’s GCHQ.

The Snowden paperwork revealed the existence of Tempora, a program established in 2011 by GCHQ that gathers plenty of cellphone and web site visitors by tapping into fiber-optic cables. GCHQ shares most of its data with the NSA.


Not related


Fiber-optic cable


Fiber-optic touchdown level

Distance between ocean floor and ground not drawn to scale

In addition to its upstream assortment applications, the NSA additionally has Prism, which, in response to the Snowden paperwork, is the largest single contributor to its intelligence studies. It’s a “downstream” program – which implies the company collects the info from Google, Fb, Apple, Yahoo and different US web giants. One slide claims the company has “direct entry” to their servers, however this has been hotly disputed by the businesses, who say they solely adjust to lawful requests for consumer information.

When the Guardian and the Washington Put up revealed the existence of Prism the businesses denied all information of it and insisted that any co-operation with the intelligence businesses was compelled by legislation.

Paperwork obtainable within the desktop model of this interactive or at
The NSA Recordsdata hub.

The names of most of the NSA’s “company companions” are so delicate that they’re labeled as “ECI” — Exceptionally Managed Info — the next classification stage than the Snowden paperwork cowl.

However a few of the web corporations are named within the Particular Supply Operations briefing on Company Accomplice Entry. A graphic evaluating weekly studies involving the businesses lists a few of the Prism suppliers. Different corporations on the listing are protected by ECI covernames. Artifice, Lithium and Serenade are listed in different paperwork as covernames for SSO company companions, whereas Steelknight is described as an NSA associate facility.

That is the primary time that information giving a pattern of the variety of intelligence information being generated per firm has been printed. It reveals that over the interval proven, June to July 2010, information from Yahoo generated by far probably the most NSA intelligence studies, adopted by Microsoft, after which Google. All three corporations are combating by the courts to be allowed to launch extra detailed figures for the numbers of knowledge requests they deal with from US intelligence businesses.

Intelligence studies by firm

Paperwork obtainable within the desktop model of this interactive or at
The NSA Recordsdata hub.

Amie Stepanovich

Lawyer, Digital Privateness Info Middle

Not all corporations have complied. Ladar Levison, the founding father of Lavabit — a small, safe electronic mail supplier utilized by Snowden — suspended operations in August somewhat than adjust to a warrant that might have allowed the US authorities entry to the info of all Lavabit’s 400,000 clients.

In a press release defending its surveillance applications, the NSA mentioned: “What NSA does is acquire the communications of targets of overseas intelligence worth, no matter the supplier that carries them. US service supplier communications make use of the identical data tremendous highways as quite a lot of different industrial service suppliers. NSA should perceive and take that under consideration to be able to eradicate data that’s not associated to overseas intelligence.

“NSA works with quite a lot of companions and allies in assembly its foreign-intelligence mission targets, and in each case these operations adjust to US legislation and with the relevant legal guidelines beneath which these companions and allies function.”

However some members of Congress, akin to Lofgren, who represents a Silicon Valley district, are unconvinced. She warns that the applications not solely undermine particular person privateness, however threaten the reputations of main American telecom and web corporations.

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