(April 2018) In the past few decades, methods of communication have dramatically changed. The development of new technology, especially the birth of the internet, has transformed the way individuals communicate with each other and increased the amount of information that can be collected by several orders of magnitude. In particular, communications – emails, instant messages, calls, social media posts, web searches, requests to visit a website – may transit multiple countries before reaching their destination. The dispersion of communications across the internet vastly increases the opportunities for communications and data to be intercepted by foreign governments, who may then share them with other governments.
As methods of communications have dramatically changed, so too has intelligence gathering. Intelligence agencies have developed increasingly advanced ways of accessing, acquiring, storing, analysing and disseminating information. In particular, they have developed methods for acquiring communications and data traveling the internet.