NSA and GCHQ siphoning huge quantities of data from undersea fiber optic cables

By on July 18, 2013, 5:30 PM
nsa, gchq, undersea cable, prism, tempora, cable tapping

The plot thickens as the NSA’s data collection net widens. NSA leaks reveal that governments are tapping into “the Internet’s backbone” to siphon off huge quantities of data. That is, government programs in the US and UK are able to gain access to tremendous amounts of data by accessing networks of undersea fiber optic cable, according to a report from The Atlantic.

British surveillance programs titled “Mastering the Internet” and “Global Telecoms Exploitation” (that sounds legitimate, right?), akin to the US’s PRISM program, operate a subsidiary program called Tempora. Tempora soaks up huge amounts of data, upwards of 21 million gigabytes per day, and then retains the data for a month.

Tempora then shares this data with the NSA and British GCHQ, which reportedly commits 550 analysts to reviewing the contents. The data collected is cause for more concern to privacy advocates than the recent reports of collection of phone call metadata, because tapping into these cables allows governments to make complete copies of all the data, not just the metadata.

Edward Snowden, in his interview security analyst Jacob Appelbaum, said that the GCHQ is “worse than” the NSA because of their “full take” system, which collects all data indiscriminately, regardless of its content.

“If you had the choice, you should never send information over British lines or British servers," said Snowden.

The US has its own cable-tapping system, referred to by several names in the leaked NSA PowerPoint presentation: OAKSTAR, STORMBREW, BLARNEY and FAIRVIEW. PRISM interfaces with this data source similarly to its British counterpart.

In order to tap the undersea lines, the cables have to accessed directly. In 2005, the submarine USS Jimmy Carter was repurposed for the job, according to the Associated Press. Cables are accessed at “regeneration points,” where they go through signal amplification and are no longer bundled and can be accessed individually.

Image Credit: The Atlantic




User Comments: 35

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RH00D RH00D said:

I'm so thankful for Edward Snowden. Before his leaks most of this stuff seemed borderline tin-foil hat but since his leaks, we've discovered a lot of legitimacy to the rumors and conspiracies.

I never doubted that governments mined or collected data, I figured they at least would follow proper warrants and legal processes though. I just never imagined it was so extreme and extensive as it really is...

Because of all of this, I've decided to learn a lot more about encryption and I'm going to implement it as much as is desirable to my digital life.

Guest said:

And this is why people don't trust the government lol

MilwaukeeMike said:

Because of all of this, I've decided to learn a lot more about encryption and I'm going to implement it as much as is desirable to my digital life.

You and every enemy of the US. For example, Russia, the country we've been on the opposite side of in every conflict since WWII. Russia is where Snowden is hiding right now. Many consider him a hero, but he's also a hero to the Russian govt. How does that work that his actions make him a hero to the American people and the Russian government at the same time?

If he is granted asylum in Russia that means he will have had to pay them for it with more secrets that won't be made public. Public 'secrets' are worthless.

And someone should explain to the NSA that it's a lot easier to tap into the undersea wires near the land... where they come up above the water.

1 person liked this | cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

And this is why people don't trust the government lol

Trust is a two way road. If the government doesn't trust us enough to allow privacy, how can we trust them?

Guest said:

Snoden is nothing but a TRAITOR. Why? Having exposed US secrets, he then tried to hide in China and Russia - fact. He will now likely get protection in a tin-pot dictator state, as neither China or Russia will touch him (a smart decision).

These surveillance systems are in place not to read your trivial emails or catch you downloading porn, but to assist in the prevention of acts of terrorism and provide evidence in other significant crimes (perhaps such as child porn, money laundering etc). People who whine about potentially being snooped are either being foolishly anarchist or have something to hide.

Sonden has forever damaged the governments ability to protect the innocent and prosecute the guilty. As the old saying goes, if you have nothing to hide....

I look forward to Snoden's body washing up on a beach somewhere, and the sooner the better. A true WORM of a character who is NOT a hero by any measure (unless you are Al-Qaeda or Taliban).

Do NOT worship anyone who removes the protection of the innocent. I would give up absolute privacy for a safer country any day. Period.

MilwaukeeMike said:

And this is why people don't trust the government lol

Trust is a two way road. If the government doesn't trust us enough to allow privacy, how can we trust them?

The government trusts 99.99999% of us. It's the McVeigh, Kaczynski and Tsarnaev types they're wary of. If you can figure out a way for them to find that last .00001% while retaining 100% our privacy I'll sure the govt would be interested. Until then, we can at least be happy that they're doing their best to protect us no matter how much we complain about their methods.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I would give up absolute privacy for a safer country any day. Period.
I truly hope there is an ocean separating you and I.

Invading anyones privacy who has nothing to hide will never make for a safer country. Those who do have things to hide are not foolish enough to openly broadcast their secretes. In the long run there is a huge workforce leaching off tax payers, that practically gets nothing done. Maybe if everything wasn't classified, I would feel differently and actually know what the f_ck it is they do. But since I have no frame of reference as to what they do, I feel I am getting the short end of the stick.

You can talk trash about Snowden all you want, I will never see him as a traitor. The fact that you think he is, makes me wonder if you work for a governmental branch.

2 people like this | TheBigFatClown said:

These surveillance systems are in place not to read your trivial emails or catch you downloading porn, but to assist in the prevention of acts of terrorism and provide evidence in other significant crimes (perhaps such as child porn, money laundering etc). People who whine about potentially being snooped are either being foolishly anarchist or have something to hide.

Here's an odd concept for you to think about for a moment. How about enjoying privacy for no other reason than 'privacy' itself. Why do I have to be hiding something if I want privacy in my life?

Sonden has forever damaged the governments ability to protect the innocent and prosecute the guilty. As the old saying goes, if you have nothing to hide....

Ummm, no. All that Edward Snowden has done is bring more awareness to would-be terrorists. I am sure the government still has plenty of tools to protect the United States.

I look forward to Snoden's body washing up on a beach somewhere, and the sooner the better. A true WORM of a character who is NOT a hero by any measure (unless you are Al-Qaeda or Taliban).

Well, you certainly seem to take the "extreme" view of who Edward Snowden is. Maybe he is just a concerned citizen and not a terrorist...just maybe?

Do NOT worship anyone who removes the protection of the innocent. I would give up absolute privacy for a safer country any day. Period.

I'll bet you would give up every last freedom you enjoy just to be safe, wouldn't you? No free speech, no right to bear arms, no right to unlawful search and seizures in your own home. You would give up all those freedoms to be safe I am sure. Good to know. You are slowly getting your wish.

There's an episode of the 'Justice League' that paints a vivid picture of what life would be like in a perfectly safe world. Not much fun really.

Guest said:

I don't feel the need to bear arms, just bare my arms. In Australia we don't have the gun-carrying-mentality that the USA is cursed with (yes, an ocean DOES separate us). We also have nowhere near the shooting deaths as a result. You can go on about the right to bare arms all you like, but down under we simply think its a silly demand to be able to have a deadly weapon in your house or in your pocket under the guise of keeping your government honest.(and please, don't tell me that a knife or brick is equally dangerous. They don't fire deadly projectiles).

I don't need privacy for privacy's sake. That's like 'needing' a bike you never ride. Silly.

Unlike the paranoid twitchers, I don't mind AT ALL if the government is privy to my Internet use as I have nothing to hide. Why should I fear them knowing the non-criminal activities that I am involved in? I am FAR more concerned about Google etc wanting to use me as a statistic, or worse, monetise my Internet habits.

And finally, I do NOT work for an agency (that was clearly another paranoid conspiracy statement). I am self-employed in I.T.

Perhaps if you lost a loved one to an act of terror or serious crime you would change your mind. Until then, you can carry on about 'liberties' all you like - your government knows better, thank god.

PS. Isn't Justice League a cartoon? I imagine a comparison to the Patrick McGoohan's 'The Prisoner' concepts is more apt.

PPS. I apologise to the traitor for misspelling his name, not that it matters as his name is MUD now anyway.

JC713 JC713 said:

Snoden is nothing but a TRAITOR. Why? Having exposed US secrets, he then tried to hide in China and Russia - fact. He will now likely get protection in a tin-pot dictator state, as neither China or Russia will touch him (a smart decision).

These surveillance systems are in place not to read your trivial emails or catch you downloading porn, but to assist in the prevention of acts of terrorism and provide evidence in other significant crimes (perhaps such as child porn, money laundering etc). People who whine about potentially being snooped are either being foolishly anarchist or have something to hide.

Sonden has forever damaged the governments ability to protect the innocent and prosecute the guilty. As the old saying goes, if you have nothing to hide....

I look forward to Snoden's body washing up on a beach somewhere, and the sooner the better. A true WORM of a character who is NOT a hero by any measure (unless you are Al-Qaeda or Taliban).

Do NOT worship anyone who removes the protection of the innocent. I would give up absolute privacy for a safer country any day. Period.

It is good to know this info, but he was a traitor for disobeying his promise to never uncover these secrets. That is the definition of a traitor.

TheBigFatClown said:

I don't feel the need to bear arms, just bare my arms. In Australia we don't have the gun-carrying-mentality that the USA is cursed with (yes, an ocean DOES separate us). We also have nowhere near the shooting deaths as a result. You can go on about the right to bare arms all you like, but down under we simply think its a silly demand to be able to have a deadly weapon in your house or in your pocket under the guise of keeping your government honest.(and please, don't tell me that a knife or brick is equally dangerous. They don't fire deadly projectiles).

I don't need privacy for privacy's sake. That's like 'needing' a bike you never ride. Silly.

Okay, please post your name, address, age, marital status, yearly income, etc. In fact, just post your tax returns on-line for everyone to see. If you have nothing to hide this shouldn't be a problem for you. If you don't post this information I'll just assume now that you are a criminal since you have already publicly laid down the premises that would suggest any person refusing to do so is a criminal.

Perhaps if you lost a loved one to an act of terror or serious crime you would change your mind. Until then, you can carry on about 'liberties' all you like - your government knows better, thank god.

Perhaps if you lived in a different part of the world under a government that was not so tolerant of its own citizens you would change your mind. Maybe you should take a plane to Syria and live there for awhile. Then come back and tell us all how much you love your government.

wujj123456 said:

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."

There is always one thing higher than the governments and countries. People.

Guest said:

TheBigfatclown, you have lived up to your name indeed with that last post. Complete and utter nonsense.

TheBigFatClown said:

TheBigfatclown, you have lived up to your name indeed with that last post. Complete and utter nonsense.

Okay, Im listening. Please explain. Im guessing you have something to hide since you don't want us to see your tax returns. After all, privacy for privacy sake is just plain silly. Your own words.

Guest said:

"I do nothing wrong so I have nothing to hide" is a naive and foolish stance in this situation. What are you a child?

Information is power. Whoever has it has the power to exploit you by advancing their interests over your own.

This is especially the case with private information. There is no good hands in which private information can be entrusted except the intended recipient. Who is to say that there are not any more rogues such as Snowden employed in these projects who are not interested in personal liberties as he was but are actually in the employ of corporations, lobbies and foreign governments? Hell what about a rogue who just has a personal vendetta and is armed with information about you to mess with your life at will?

Privacy is fundamental to personal freedom. Once you give up the former you lose the latter. It's that simple.

This situation has enormous implications not only for the disregard of personal freedoms but for corporate and foreign espionage on a global scale. It is Neo-Imperialism in effect.

On the issue of security from terrorist attacks. If the US really wants to be safe and be a force for good in the world it wouldn't affect change half-heartedly in the countries it has invaded. What is needed is a total overhaul in foreign policy. Afghanistan and Iraq should have been occupied and governed with US written constitutions as a foundation until a total transformation to a secular culture has taken place. It may have taken decades but it would have worked. The elder populations in these countries may have resisted but a state based on reason, freedom and equal opportunity would have been too enticing for subsequent generations of youth. Israel should be pressured into giving up half of its territory so the Palestinians can have their own state; one with contiguous borders, access to the sea and a sustainable economy based on agriculture. Israel can not be allowed to continue with the ongoing passive-aggressive expansionist policy it has employed since before its foundation. It is an ongoing ethnic cleansing of every other means except by outright large scale violence (which also occurs during its wars). The entire Israeli state apparatus is geared toward seizing more land and displacing more native population. This conflict must end and the instigators must end it by giving back at least half of what they have taken. Saudi Arabia should have been the target of transformation more than any country in the region. Wahabist extremism is the fundamental cause of Islamic terrorism worldwide and its base is in that country. The Saudi monarchy history is entwined with wahabism and should be held responsible for propagating the hate, intolerance and violence propagated around that region. Forget about Iran, once the Palestine-Israel conflict is resolved their will be no issue with Iran. This is a country that should be left alone to determine its own destiny; like Turkey this country has an advanced civil society with a robust and adaptable economy. More importantly it has not invaded any other country nor initiated a war. Whether it exports arms and resources to self-described resistance groups is questionable but also no different to what many other countries including the US do. The nuclear issue is a matter of Iranian national interests alone and should be left as such.

1 person liked this | Divvet said:

I don't feel the need to bear arms, just bare my arms. In Australia we don't have the gun-carrying-mentality that the USA is cursed with (yes, an ocean DOES separate us). We also have nowhere near the shooting deaths as a result. You can go on about the right to bare arms all you like, but down under we simply think its a silly demand to be able to have a deadly weapon in your house or in your pocket under the guise of keeping your government honest.(and please, don't tell me that a knife or brick is equally dangerous. They don't fire deadly projectiles).

I don't need privacy for privacy's sake. That's like 'needing' a bike you never ride. Silly.

Unlike the paranoid twitchers, I don't mind AT ALL if the government is privy to my Internet use as I have nothing to hide. Why should I fear them knowing the non-criminal activities that I am involved in? I am FAR more concerned about Google etc wanting to use me as a statistic, or worse, monetise my Internet habits.

And finally, I do NOT work for an agency (that was clearly another paranoid conspiracy statement). I am self-employed in I.T.

Perhaps if you lost a loved one to an act of terror or serious crime you would change your mind. Until then, you can carry on about 'liberties' all you like - your government knows better, thank god.

PS. Isn't Justice League a cartoon? I imagine a comparison to the Patrick McGoohan's 'The Prisoner' concepts is more apt.

PPS. I apologise to the traitor for misspelling his name, not that it matters as his name is MUD now anyway.

I love how you say you would give up your privacy so easily, yet you post comments anonymously.

Divvet said:

I don't feel the need to bear arms, just bare my arms. In Australia we don't have the gun-carrying-mentality that the USA is cursed with (yes, an ocean DOES separate us). We also have nowhere near the shooting deaths as a result. You can go on about the right to bare arms all you like, but down under we simply think its a silly demand to be able to have a deadly weapon in your house or in your pocket under the guise of keeping your government honest.(and please, don't tell me that a knife or brick is equally dangerous. They don't fire deadly projectiles).

I don't need privacy for privacy's sake. That's like 'needing' a bike you never ride. Silly.

Unlike the paranoid twitchers, I don't mind AT ALL if the government is privy to my Internet use as I have nothing to hide. Why should I fear them knowing the non-criminal activities that I am involved in? I am FAR more concerned about Google etc wanting to use me as a statistic, or worse, monetise my Internet habits.

And finally, I do NOT work for an agency (that was clearly another paranoid conspiracy statement). I am self-employed in I.T.

Perhaps if you lost a loved one to an act of terror or serious crime you would change your mind. Until then, you can carry on about 'liberties' all you like - your government knows better, thank god.

PS. Isn't Justice League a cartoon? I imagine a comparison to the Patrick McGoohan's 'The Prisoner' concepts is more apt.

PPS. I apologise to the traitor for misspelling his name, not that it matters as his name is MUD now anyway.

I love how you say you would give up your privacy so easily, yet you post comments anonymously.

Yet you have nothing to hide...

Guest said:

That is an idiotic retort.

To remain anonymous from you is nothing like having an open attitude toward government.

You ridiculously compare yourself to a government. I wouldn't trust you with ANY details, as you have already revealed your carelessness with the peoples opinions.

Governments present much higher standards than you ever will, which is why you would never pass the entrance exam.

grumpiman said:

That is an idiotic retort.

To remain anonymous from you is nothing like having an open attitude toward government.

You ridiculously compare yourself to a government. I wouldn't trust you with ANY details, as you have already revealed your carelessness with the peoples opinions.

Governments present much higher standards than you ever will, which is why you would never pass the entrance exam.

Maybe he _does_ work for the government. Oh and by the way, so did Edward Snowden.

Guest said:

@Guest

You mean those high standards that prevented Snowden from leak all this info? You're incredibly naive if you think any governments employees can be trusted with this much power.

1 person liked this | Guest said:

Some over-testosteronized dumbfuck will always want to dominate and rule the world, not everybody can have a budda-like attitude. You will not eradicate fundamental errors in human natures.

Guest said:

Only by putting people in misery, depriving them of life's pleasures and instilling fear you can make them so neurotic that dominating them will be just as simple as opening your eyes.

Fbarnett Fbarnett said:

SNOWDEN is a traitor. He made a deal when you got the job not to tell anything to anybody. I like how people think a man who does not keep his word is a hero. And know he has to live somewhere hiding like a piece of crap for the rest of his life.

I really don't give a crap what the Government spies on. I have nothing to hide. I think over 99% of the people in this world are incapable of making decisions anyways. That is kind of why we have government. They have been doing this crap forever why cry now?

TheBigFatClown said:

SNOWDEN is a traitor. He made a deal when you got the job not to tell anything to anybody. I like how people think a man who does not keep his word is a hero. And know he has to live somewhere hiding like a piece of crap for the rest of his life.

I really don't give a crap what the Government spies on. I have nothing to hide. I think over 99% of the people in this world are incapable of making decisions anyways. That is kind of why we have government. They have been doing this crap forever why cry now?

Why cry about it now? Because, now we have 100% undeniable, verifiable, no possible way out of it, proof that it's being done. Before, if people would have made these accusations they would have been accused by ******* like you of wearing tin-foil hats. Now people like you can't spew that same old bullshit about Americans wearing tin-foil hats.That's why "cry about it now".

You think 99% of people can't make decisions huh? Let me guess, you are in the 1%? The stuff you say is so outrageous the only conclusion I can draw from your statements is that you are a government employee or you simply thrive on attention.

1 person liked this | amstech amstech, TechSpot Enthusiast, said:

Saying Snowden is a traitor has got to be, without a doubt, the dumbest post I've read in 2013 on this site.

Nobina Nobina said:

SNOWDEN is a traitor. He made a deal when you got the job not to tell anything to anybody. I like how people think a man who does not keep his word is a hero. And know he has to live somewhere hiding like a piece of crap for the rest of his life.

I really don't give a crap what the Government spies on. I have nothing to hide. I think over 99% of the people in this world are incapable of making decisions anyways. That is kind of why we have government. They have been doing this crap forever why cry now?

So if you have nothing to hide, maybe someone else has.

2 people like this | IvanAwfulitch IvanAwfulitch said:

I don't want someone snooping around in my personal life just because I have nothing to hide. You wouldn't want me digging through all your drawers in your bedroom even if you had nothing to hide. Just admit it. You're absolutely dead wrong.

Our forefathers guaranteed that the right to a citizen's privacy could never be unjustly violated. There are these things called warrants that allow the government and the police to do all the snooping they want. If they're really afraid that there's a terrorist in America, get a subpoena or a warrant and THEN have a look around. Looking for a terrorist on skype, facebook, or gmail is like looking for a fish in Death Valley. You're just NOT going to find one because you're looking in the wrong place. Keeping tabs on us constantly via spying is completely wrong.

And because they're looking in the wrong place, they're trampling our Constitution and our Bill of Rights in the process-- things that the government promised never to violate.

Just like President Obama calling for gun controls right when an emotional public is reacting to the Zimmerman trial, or the Newtown shooting, spying for the sake of spying on the American people to find terrorists isn't going to get you anywhere. It's just simply the government taking a stranglehold on civil liberties in the name of 'freedom' and 'democracy'.

If the US government is guilty of criminal acts, then blowing the whistle does in fact make Snowden a hero, like it or not. And he deserves the protection of the general public around the world because of his noble act. I wouldn't sit idly by while an innocent citizen's life is destroyed because of wrongfully suspected terrorism. I would call it out too. It's the responsible thing to do. France is doing it, Russia is doing, the US is doing it... they're all bed-fellows. And as soon as Snowden made it to Russia, Russia just wanted assurances that their own spying program wouldn't be leaked; France started sh***ing itself too after PRISM got exposed because their spying program is actually WORSE than the one in America.

The American people have decided that their Constitution and their Bill of Rights are essential, and that they want to protect those rights. Crying now is the best time for it because any later is far too late. Believing anything else is complete and utter idiocy at its worst. And if you still insist on what you believe, you're just a big fat troll. Get back on 4chan, fa**ot.

2 people like this | gingerbill said:

I think Benjamin Franklin said it best " They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."

Guest said:

Yep in Australia you don't need guns you got your blow pipe with poison to kill someone or just slip a mamba in their bed.

tonylukac said:

They essentially want privacy for their secrets yet want to violate our privacy.

1 person liked this | Mikymjr Mikymjr said:

Snoden is nothing but a TRAITOR. Why? Having exposed US secrets, he then tried to hide in China and Russia - fact. He will now likely get protection in a tin-pot dictator state, as neither China or Russia will touch him (a smart decision).

These surveillance systems are in place not to read your trivial emails or catch you downloading porn, but to assist in the prevention of acts of terrorism and provide evidence in other significant crimes (perhaps such as child porn, money laundering etc). People who whine about potentially being snooped are either being foolishly anarchist or have something to hide.

Sonden has forever damaged the governments ability to protect the innocent and prosecute the guilty. As the old saying goes, if you have nothing to hide....

I look forward to Snoden's body washing up on a beach somewhere, and the sooner the better. A true WORM of a character who is NOT a hero by any measure (unless you are Al-Qaeda or Taliban).

Do NOT worship anyone who removes the protection of the innocent. I would give up absolute privacy for a safer country any day. Period.

Let's think about this for a second. You're wishing for someone to be dead. You wanna take Gods place? Your ignorance annoys me. God does not belong to any country nor any government. Why are you putting Guest as your name? Unless you also like privacy and are just bragging. And what's with the "I'd like to give up my privacy for privacy sake". It sounds more like you're worried about your own life. About people who died from a terrorist attack? Yeah it happened and they have my condolences and respect. You wanna get revenge? Start with how Terrorists got this way. Terrorists get to drive because of your mindset. Sure I'd like to kick people who are bad, or stop them in their plans if I got the chance, but how did they get like this? It's stereo-typing, racism, the poor getting poorer that's what leads to these things. Do something about it instead of saying the government will take care of me. Every good starts with yourself being good to others even if they might sometimes be bad. I could also start with how thousands of people die in traffic every day because of reckless drivers or drunks. People who died in aircraft crashes because of faulty maintenance or ignorance. Why not put the ones responsible for those deaths as terrorists? If you want to make it better for others sake so it doesn't happen to them, start doing something to help improve everyone's situation (every person on earth) instead of brushing it of as "it's not my problem cause I only want revenge"

Guest said:

I agree. Edward Snowden is a public servant; he cannot possibly be a traitor because, in order to be so labelled, one has to be ".... a person who commits treason by betraying his or her country."

He hasn't, and yes, if he were British, I would feel exactly the same.

By the way, stories such as this were never in the domain of the tinfoil hat brigade - that's government propaganda for you. Check the date of this story:- http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/503224.stm

"Enemy of the State" was a good film, but it spouted 'current technology' that was already 20 years old.

Satki said:

So if terrorism is the no. 1 reason for PRISM, why is Germany the number 1 target? Specifically Bavaria, which just so happens to contain 60% of German industry. This is about control and stealing industrial secrets from allies, stopping terrorism is just a diversion for the headlines

Guest said:

"Saying Snowden is a traitor has got to be, without a doubt, the dumbest post I've read in 2013 on this site."

Saying he's not a traitor has got to be, without a doubt, the dumbest mentality someone can have. You can consider him a hero if you want, but by definition, he is a traitor nonetheless...

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

"Saying Snowden is a traitor has got to be, without a doubt, the dumbest post I've read in 2013 on this site."

Saying he's not a traitor has got to be, without a doubt, the dumbest mentality someone can have. You can consider him a hero if you want, but by definition, he is a traitor nonetheless...

The fact that we bicker whether or not he is, proves there is reasonable doubt.

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