Signals Intelligence, or SIGINT, is the interception of telecommunications that has become an increasingly central part of intelligence-gathering. Depending on the country, SIGINT is carried out by a dedicated agency – such as the NSA in the US or GCHQ in the United Kingdom – or by specific departments in intelligence services – such as the technical departments of France’s DGSE or Germany’s BND. Edward Snowden’s revelations about bulk data collection by the NSA has created mixed feelings about the role of SIGINT in modern society. Since digital communications are increasingly encrypted, SIGINT needs ever more powerful calculators for decryption.

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