09Feb, 2017

What Is Tempora? The Facts.

Tempora was used to obtain personal data

Designed in 2008 and implemented in 2011 Tempora is the keyword for a previously hushed computer program. Used by the British Government Communication Headquarters (GCHQ) this acted as an intermediary for communications via company-owned fiber optic cables. Storing information gained, it could be scanned and processed at a later point in time.

The internet is basically made up of a network of fibre-optic cables. Intercepts were placed mainly in the United Kingdom along with a significant portion placed around the world. Using intercepts on these cables GCHQ was able to access an huge amount of data. This approach was taken absent of any suspicion on individuals and without specific targeting enabling the acquisition of a mass amount of personal information.

In May of 2013 Edward Snowden, an American Computer Professional, initially contracted as an American Intelligence adviser, leaked information. Sharing this information with Glenn Greenwald, a former journalist for the Guardian, Snowden revealed details of a mass surveillance program sponsored by the government. Supported by Snowden acquired documents outlining that the National Security Agency (NSA), US was obtaining information via Tempora.

Initial reports seen, explained that Tempora was used for Internet traffic only, as is the case with the NSA’s XKeyscore system. Contradicting this Snowden further revealed that Tempora consisted of 2 prime components, GTE or Global Telecoms Exploration and MTI or Mastering The Internet designed to gather both online and telephone traffic.

With the Guardian reporting that no differentiation is made between targeted suspects and residents, data collated by Tempora consists of personal phone calls, emails, user Internet history, Facebook and more. Allegations stand that the GCHQ metadata production is significantly larger than what the NSA is generating.

Further claims were laid that Tempora was made possible through the making of secret arrangements with the commercial companies that owned to fibre-optic cables, labeled as ‘intercept partners’ by Snowden. Further allegations stated that many companies were paid for their co-operation and that GCHQ staff was encouraged to fudge the material origin in order to protect these companies from political backlashes.

GCHQ legal representation denied the possibility of detailing tally’s of people data that was obtained from due to the unmanageable high volume of possibilities.

Resulting Actions

  • A confidential DA-Notice was issued by UK Defence officials to media corporations including the BBC. The Notice directly requested stories covering the surveillance leaks and British involvement.
  • Preventing the publication of classified details restriction was applied by the US Army to their employees’ preventing them from accessing the Guardian Website.
  • European institutions were demanded to investigate the ‘nightmare’ of a situation by the Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, German Federal Minister of Justice.
  • An infringement procedure against the UK was called for by a German Member of European Parliament, Jan Philipp Albrecht under Article 16 – Treaties of the European Union. “They have violated their obligations regarding the protection of citizens with the acquisition of personal data” Albrecht stated.

About The Author

Read more