How GCHQ and the NSA work together to capture the world’s internet traffic
Windstop is an umbrella programme for bulk interception which the NSA operates with the Five Eyes partners – the US, the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. The programme aims to “develop a well-integrated, over-arching architecture to utilise unprecedented access to communications into and out of Europe and the Middle East”.
Marina is the NSA’s communications data depository, which is understood to be available to GCHQ. It holds a year’s worth of metadata on millions of people taken from targeted and bulk surveillance, including tapping of fibre-optic cables. The application provides tools that track people’s web-browsing history, gather contacts and content information and develop summaries of the target.
Xkeyscore is a Google-type search system for analysts developed by the NSA, and made available to GCHQ analysts. In 2008 it had 150 field sites, including in the US and the UK, made up of 700 servers. The servers store “full take” of intercepted data. Xkeyscore allows analysts to query the activities of people based on their location, nationality, and websites visited.
Incensor is the NSA’s fourth-largest cable-tapping programme, which takes more than 14 billion items of internet data a month from cables located in Cornwall, with the assistance of a British telecommunications company. It taps into two communications cables – Flag Atlantic 1, which links the east coast of North America to the UK and France; and Flag Europe Asia, which connects the UK to Japan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Asia.
Rampart A was created in 1992 with the aim of gaining access to high-capacity international fibre-optic cables at major congestion points around the world. The NSA operates the programme with foreign partners, which provide access to cables and host US equipment. It has access to more than 3TB of data a second, from voice, email, internet chat, virtual private networks and voice over IP, plus telephone call records.
Prism allows the FBI to send “selectors” to more than nine US-based communications service providers, which are required to send communications sent to or from the selectors to the US government. In the UK, GCHQ analysts can use Prism to obtain emails, photos and videos from US technology companies taking part in the programme. The companies included Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube and Apple at the time of the Snowden leaks. Prism is governed in the US under section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which allows the NSA to gather intelligence on non-US citizens.
Upstream is a bulk collection programme run by the NSA which intercepts telephone and internet communications from the telecommunications backbone, including fibre-optic cables. GCHQ has access to intercepted material. Like Prism, it is governed in the US under section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which allows the NSA to gather intelligence on non-US citizens.
Source: Factual Appendix: 10 Human Rights Organisations v United Kingdom and press reports.