Leaked NSA Slide Reveals PRISM’s Brother – Upstream

By: Zach Walton - July 10, 2013

In early June, The Washington Post and The Guardian revealed through leaks provided by Edward Snowden that the NSA was in cahoots with major tech companies in a program called PRISM. In short, the leak claimed that the NSA could collect data directly from these companies’ servers, although the companies allegedly involved denied any involvement.

Since then, a number of new leaks have shown just how PRISM works. It doesn’t indiscriminately gather up any and all information as previously thought. Instead, it goes through a system that tries to automatically remove any information pertaining to American citizens while retaining information on potential foreign threats. Unfortunately, the system isn’t perfect, and PRISM still collects a lot of data on American citizens. Even worse, the information collected can be used under a variety of circumstances.

Now, fast forward to today – The Washington Post has published a new slide that reveals PRISM’s brother. The system, called Upstream, is a program that collects communications from the infrastructure that connect America to the rest of the world via underwater fiber cables.

Leaked NSA Slide Reveals PRISM's Brother

As you can see in the slide above, the NSA encourages its agents to use both services in unison to collect data on potential targets. It makes sense as PRISM is only useful for data that’s stored on tech companies’ servers. Upstream would allow them to collect data as it’s being transferred to and from the U.S. via underwater cables.

You may also notice that the slide lists four names at the bottom of Upstream’s description – Fairview, Stormbrew, Blarney and Oakstar. What’s interesting about these is that nobody knows what they are. A previous report indicated that Blarney may be a system used to collect metadata being transferred along fiber cables. As for the other three, we can only assume that they are similar systems being used to collect or analyze data, much like PRISM’s Scissors, Nucleon and Pinwale.

In short, the above slide indicates that the NSA has tapped into the Internet itself to collect data on targets. Unlike accessing information on servers, however, you can’t be targeted when you’re just pulling information straight from the source. Google learned this the hard way when it was caught accidentally pulling information from unsecured Wi-Fi routers with its street view cars. Something tells me the NSA won’t suffer the same consequences as Google did though.

Zach Walton

About the Author

Zach WaltonZach Walton is a Writer for WebProNews. He specializes in gaming and technology. Follow him on Twitter, StumbleUpon, Pinterest, and Google+ +Zach Walton

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  • Name

    All you need to know is the Patriot Act is 342 pages long and it impacts thousands of other laws on the books. Anyone who read it knows that this is just the beginning.

    Closing of the borders (remember this keeps people in as well as out), increase in police to patrol those borders, drones flying across our country, Prism, increase of homeland security, increase of TSA, increase of state/local police forces across the country, FEMA complexes, increased amount of private prisons being built, IRS targeting of various groups around the country, cable companies planning to view customers in their homes, etc. These thing are happening and you have to look at them strategically. They are chess pieces and they are being moved – to what end we do not know.

    The saddest thing is the average person in our nation has a much greater chance of being killed by a street gang member than they do a terrorist.

    We have the greatest nation on the planet, but we do not believe that tyranny can come to our land. Our pride will be our downfall and we will be our own undoing.

  • Lol

    I dont think “Upstream” is the name of the project.
    Upstream is a word used on the internet to describe the connection to the outside world. So webpronews.com has an provider which hosts the site, but uses other networks to connect with the rest of the world. That provider to your provider is called an upstream provider

    • http://www.webpronews.com/author/zach-walton Zach Walton

      I understand that, but the slide refers to the overarching program, which includes the four smaller programs, as Upstream. They may only be referring to the technical term of data delivery, but Upstream is the only name we have for it at the moment. That’s why I went with it.

  • kevin morley

    Logan’s run is just up the street, why provide health care when you can bump them off using RCM techniques

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