The introduction is sourced from wikipedia, for the straight fact:
Tempora is the codeword for a formerly secret computer system that is used by the British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ). This system is used to buffer most internet communications that are extracted from fibre-optic cables, so these can be processed and searched at a later time. It was tested since 2008 and became operational in the autumn of 2011.
Break #1 – The amount of standard network routing getting updated to fibre optic in London and the UK is enormous. Dial-up/DSL lines are considered poverty these days, barely reaching 3mb download speeds. However, every single fibre optic cable in the United Kingdom is tapped by the GCHQ.
Tempora uses intercepts on the fibre-optic cables that make up the backbone of the internet to gain access to large amounts of internet users’ personal data, without any individual suspicion or targeting. The intercepts are placed in the United Kingdom and overseas, with the knowledge of companies owning either the cables or landing stations.
#2 – Many, many fibre optic cables are underwater, connecting countries to countries. Let me tell you as a fact (Edward Snowden leaked this in his documents too:) every single one of these cables are tapped by the NSA.
The existence of Tempora was revealed by Edward Snowden, a former American intelligence contractor who leaked information about the program to former Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald in May 2013, as part of his revelations of government-sponsored mass surveillance programs. Documents Snowden acquired claimed that data collected by the Tempora program is shared with the National Security Agency of the United States.
Tempora is said to include recordings of telephone calls, the content of email messages, Facebook entries and the personal internet history of users. Snowden said of Tempora that “It’s not just a U.S. problem. The UK has a huge dog in this fight…They [GCHQ] are worse than the U.S.”
You know what else? GCHQ are happy to collaborate with the NSA and conduct massive operations. Furthermore, in the snowden vid, it was said that NSA love using the GCHQ for metadata queries since they need a warrant to perform metadata queries inside the United States. 850,000 NSA contractors have access to the data. Now that’s fucked.
Around 300 GCHQ and 250 NSA operatives are tasked with sifting through the data, which can be stored for up to three and 30 days for content and meta content respectively.
They use a technique called Massive Volume Reduction (MVR). Peer-to-peer downloads, for example, are classed as “high-volume, low-value traffic” and discarded by an initial filter. This reduces the volume of data by 30 percent. They use specific searches, which can relate to trigger words, email addresses of interest, or targeted persons and phone numbers. GCHQ and the NSA have identified 40,000 and 30,000 triggers respectively.
It was first trialled in 2008 and by the summer of 2011 GCHQ had placed interceptors on over 200 fibre optic cables. By late 2011, the Tempora programme had been fully launched and shared with the Americans on a three-month trial basis.