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A typical classified document. Page 13 of a U.S. National Security Agency report[1] on the USS Liberty incident, partially declassified and released to the public in July 2003. The original overall classification of the page, "top secret", and the Special Intelligence code word "umbra," are shown at top and bottom. The classification of individual paragraphs and reference titles is shown in parentheses - there are six different levels on this page alone. Notations with leader lines at top and bottom cite statutory authority for not declassifying certain sections.

Classified information is sensitive information to which access is restricted by law or regulation to particular classes of persons. A formal security clearance is required to handle classified documents or access classified data. The clearance process requires a satisfactory background investigation. There are typically several levels of sensitivity, with differing clearance requirements. This sort of hierarchical system of secrecy is used by virtually every national government. The act of assigning the level of sensitivity to data is called data classification.

Some corporations and non-government organizations also assign sensitive information to multiple levels of protection, either from a desire to protect trade secrets, or because of laws and regulations governing various matters such as personal privacy, sealed legal proceedings and the timing of financial information releases.

Contents

Government classification

The purpose of classification is ostensibly to protect information from being used to damage or endanger national security. Classification formalises what constitutes a "state secret" and accords different levels of protection based on the expected damage the information might cause in the wrong hands.

Classification levels

Although the classification systems vary from country to country, most have levels corresponding to the following British definitions (from the highest level to lowest):

Top Secret (TS)

The highest level of classification of material on a national level. Such material would cause "exceptionally grave damage" to national security if publicly available.

Secret

Such material would cause "grave damage" to national security if it were publicly available.

Confidential

Such material would cause "damage" or be "prejudicial" to national security if publicly available.

Restricted

Such material would cause "undesirable effects" if publicly available. Some countries do not have such a classification.

Unclassified

Technically not a classification level, but is used for government documents that do not have a classification listed above. Such documents can sometimes be viewed by those without security clearance.

Clearance

Depending on the level of classification there are different rules controlling the level of clearance needed to view such information, and how it must be stored, transmitted, and destroyed. Additionally, access is restricted on a "need to know" basis. Simply possessing a clearance does not automatically authorize the individual to view all material classified at that level or below that level. The individual must present a legitimate "need to know" in addition to the proper level of clearance.

Compartmented information

In addition to the general risk-based classification levels above, often there are additional constraints on access, such as (in the U.S.) Special Intelligence (SI) which protects intelligence sources and methods, No Foreign dissemination (NOFORN) which restricts dissemination to U.S. nationals, and Originator Controlled dissemination (ORCON), which ensures that the originator can track possessors of the information. Documents in some compartments are marked with specific "code words" in addition to the classification level.

Nuclear information

Government information about nuclear weapons such as nuclear warheads often has an additional marking to show it contains such information.

Sharing classified information between countries

When a government agency or group shares information between an agency or group of other country’s government they will generally employ a special classification scheme which both parties have previously agreed to honour. For example, sensitive information shared amongst NATO allies has five levels of security classification; from most to least classified, COSMIC TOP SECRET (CTS), FOCAL TOP SECRET (FTS), NATO SECRET (NS), NATO CONFIDENTIAL (NC), and NATO RESTRICTED (NR). A special case exists with regard to NATO UNCLASSIFIED (NU) information. This is NATO property and must not be made public without NATO permission.

Another marking, ATOMAL, is applied to U.S. RESTRICTED DATA or FORMERLY RESTRICTED DATA and United Kingdom ATOMIC information that has been released to NATO. ATOMAL information is marked COSMIC TOP SECRET ATOMAL (CTSA), NATO SECRET ATOMAL (NSA), or NATO CONFIDENTIAL ATOMAL (NCA).

In cases where a country wishes to share classified information bilaterally (or multilaterally) with a country that has a sharing agreement, the information is with the countries it can be shared with. Those countries would have to maintain the classification of the document at the level originally classified (TOP-SECRET, SECRET, etc.) with the appropriate caveat (USNZ, AUSGE, CANUK, etc.).

International organisations

  • European Commission, has 5 levels, EU TOP SECRET, EU SECRET, EU CONFIDENTIAL, EU RESTRICTED, and EU COUNCIL / COMMISSION. [2] [3] (Note that usually the French term is used)
  • NATO, has 5 levels: COSMIC TOP SECRET (CTS), FOCAL TOP SECRET (FTS), NATO SECRET (NS), NATO CONFIDENTIAL (NC), and NATO RESTRICTED (NR)
  • OCCAR, a European defence organisation, has three levels of classification: OCCAR SECRET, OCCAR CONFIDENTIAL, OCCAR RESTRICTED. [4].

By country

Facsimile of the cover page from an East German operation manual for the M-125 Fialka cipher machine. The underlined classification markings can be translated as "Cryptologic material! Secret classified material" [1].

Most countries employ some sort of classification system for certain government information. For example, in Canada information which the U.S. would classify SBU (Sensitive but Unclassified) is called "protected" and further subcategorised into levels A, B, and C.

Australia

National security classifications in Australia comprise TOP SECRET, SECRET, CONFIDENTIAL, RESTRICTED and UNCLASSIFIED. Background checks for access to TOP SECRET material are carried out at either of two levels: at TOP SECRET NEGATIVE VETTING (TSNV), or at the even more stringent and expensive TOP SECRET POSITIVE VETTING (TSPV) level, depending on the extent of required access to TOP SECRET material and on the potential damage to national security should such material be disclosed to unauthorised parties. Most background checks for access to TOP SECRET material are carried out at the TOP SECRET NEGATIVE VETTING level.

Australia also has a non-national security based classification system that is used in areas of the Federal Government not directly related to national security matters. This system is used for information whose compromise would not directly threaten the security of the nation, but the release of which could threaten the security or interests of individuals, groups, commercial entities, government business and interests, or the safety of the community

Highly protected
which broadly corresponds to SECRET in the national security system.
Protected 
which broadly corresponds to CONFIDENTIAL in the national security system.
'X'-in-confidence 
which broadly corresponds to RESTRICTED in the national security system.

In addition, documents marked 'CABINET-IN-CONFIDENCE', relating to discussions in Federal Cabinet, are treated as PROTECTED.

Canada

Background and hierarchy

There are 2 main type of sensitive information designation used by the Government of Canada: Classified and Designated. The access and protection of both types of information is governed by the Security of Information Act, effective December 24, 2001, replacing the Official Secrets Act 1981[2]. In order to access the information, a person must have the appropriate level of clearance and a Need to know.

Special operational information

SOI is not a classification of data per se, rather it is defined under the Security of Information Act for which the unauthorised release of such information constitute a higher breach of trust, with penalty of life imprisonment.

SOIs include:

  • military operations in respect of a potential, imminent or present armed conflict
  • the identity of confidential source of information, intelligence or assistance to the Government of Canada
  • tools used for information gathering or intelligence
  • the object of a covert investigation, or a covert collection of information or intelligence
  • the identity of any person who is under covert surveillance
  • encryption and cryptographic systems
  • information or intelligence to, or received from, a foreign entity or terrorist group
Classified information

Classified information can be designated Top Secret, Secret or Confidential. These classifications are only used on matters of national security.

Top Secret
This applies when compromise might reasonably cause exceptionally grave injury to the national interest. The possible impact must be great, immediate and irreparable.
Secret
This applies when compromise might reasonably cause serious injury to the national interest.
Confidential
When disclosure might reasonably cause injury to the national interest.
Designated information

Designated information is not classified. Designated information pertains to any sensitive information which does not relate to national security and cannot be disclosed under the access and privacy legislation because of the possible injury to particular public or private interests. [3][4]

Protected C (Extremely Sensitive designated information)
is used to protect extremely sensitive information if compromised, could reasonably be expected to cause extremely grave injury outside the national interest. Examples could include bankruptcy, identities of informants in criminal investigations, etc.
Protected B (Particularly Sensitive designated information)
is used to protect information which could cause severe injury or damage to the people or group involved if it was released. Examples include medical records, annual personnel performance reviews, etc.
Protected A (Low-Sensitive designated information)
is applied to low sensitivity information which should not be disclosed to the public without authorisation and could reasonably be expected to cause injury or embarrassment outside the national interest. Example of Protected A information could include employee number, pay deposit banking information, etc.

Federal Cabinet (Queen's Privy Council for Canada) papers are either designated (ie. overhead slides prepared to make presentations to Cabinet) or classified (draft legislations, certain memos).[5]

People's Republic of China

The Criminal Law of the People's Republic of China (which is not operative in the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macao) makes it a crime to release a state secret. Work on protecting state secrets is carried out by the National Administration for the Protection of State Secrets.

Under the 1989 "Law on Guarding State Secrets,"[6] state secrets are defined as those which concern:

  1. Major policy decisions on state affairs;
  2. The building of national defence and in the activities of the armed forces;
  3. Diplomatic activities and in activities related to foreign countries and those to be maintained as commitments to foreign countries;
  4. National economic and social development;
  5. Science and technology;
  6. Activities for preserving state security and the investigation of criminal offences; and
  7. Any other matters classified as "state secrets" by the national State Secrets Bureau.[7]

Secrets can be classified into one of three categories:

Top secret (绝密)
Defined as "vital state secrets whose disclosure would cause extremely serious harm to state security and national interests";
Highly secret (机密)
Defined as "important state secrets whose disclosure would cause serious harm to state security and national interests"; and
Secret (秘密)
Defined as "ordinary state secrets whose disclosure would cause harm to state security and national interests".[7]

France

In France, classified information defined by article 413-9 of the Penal Code.[8] The three levels of military classification are

Confidentiel Défense (Confidential Defence)
Information deemed potentially harmful to national defence, or which could lead to uncovering an information classified at a higher level of security.
Secret Défense (Secret Defence)
Information deemed very harmful to national defence. Such information cannot be reproduced without authorisation from the emitting authority, except in exceptional emergencies.
Très Secret Défense (Very Secret Defence)
Information deemed extremely harmful to national defence, and relative to governmental priorities in national defence. No service or organisation can elaborate, process, stock, transfer, display or destroy information or protected supports classified at this level without authorisation from the Prime Minister or the national secretary for National Defence. Partial or exhaustive reproduction is strictly forbidden.

Less sensitive information is "protected". The levels are

  • Non Protégé (unprotected)
  • Diffusion restreinte administrateur ("administrative restricted information")
  • Diffusion restreinte ("restricted information")
  • Confidentiel personnels Sous-Officiers ("Confidential non-commissioned officers")
  • Confidentiel personnels Officiers ("Confidential officers")

A further mention, "spécial France" (reserved France) restricts the document to French citizens (in its entirety or by extracts). This is not a classification level.

Declassification of documents can be done by the Commission consultative du secret de la défense nationale (CCSDN), an independent authority. Transfer of classified information is done with double envelopes, the outer layer being plastified and numbered, and the inner in strong paper. Reception of the document involves examination of the physical integrity of the container and registration of the document. In foreign countries, the document must be transferred through specialised military mail or diplomatic bag. Transport is done by an authorised convoyer or habilitated person for mail under 20 kg. The letter must bear a seal mentioning "PAR VALISE ACCOMPAGNEE-SACOCHE". Once a year, ministers have an inventory of classified information and supports by competent authorities.

Once their usage period is expired, documents are transferred to archives, where they are either destroyed (by incineration, crushing or electrical overtension), or stored.

In case of compromission of a classified information, competent authorities are the Ministry of Interior, the Haut fonctionnaire de défense et de sécurité ("high civil servant for defence and security") of the relevant ministry, and the General secretary for National Defence. Violation of such secrets is an offence punishable with 7 years of imprisonment and a 100 000 Euro fine; if the offence is committed by imprudence or negligence, the penalties are 3 years of imprisonment and a 45 000 Euro fine.

Hong Kong

The Security Bureau is responsible for developing policies in regards to the protection and handling of confidential government information. In general, the system used in Hong Kong is very similar to the UK system, developed from the Colonial Hong Kong era.

Four classifications exists in Hong Kong, from highest to lowest in sensitivity[9]:

  • Top Secret (高度機密)
  • Secret (機密)
  • Confidential (保密)
    • Temporary Confidential (臨時保密)
  • Restricted (限閱文件/內部文件)
    • Restricted (staff) (限閱文件(人事))
    • Restricted (tender) (限閱文件 (投標))
    • Restricted (administration) (限閱文件 (行政))

Restricted documents are not classified per se, but only those who have a need to know will have access to such information, in accordance with the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance. [10]

New Zealand

Like the United Kingdom, New Zealand uses the Restricted grade, which is lower than Confidential. Information with a Restricted classification is not for general dissemination, but is not classified in the strictest sense of the word - it is often used for controlling the release of reports and other documents until it can be done officially.

People may be given access to Restricted and Confidential information on the strength of an authorisation by their Head of Department, without being subjected to the background vetting associated with Secret and Top Secret clearances. New Zealand's security classifications and the national-harm requirements associated with their use are roughly similar to those of the United States.

In addition to national security classifications there are a number of classifications used within ministries and departments of the government, to indicate, for example, that information should not be released outside the originating ministry.

Because of strict privacy requirements around personal information, personnel files are controlled in all parts of the public and private sectors. Information relating to the security vetting of an individual is usually classified at the Confidential level even though it has no national security significance, because of the detail that is recorded through the vetting process.

Sweden

The Swedish classification has been updated due to increased NATO/PfP co-operation. All classified defence documents will now have both a Swedish classification (Kvalificerat Hemlig or Hemlig), and an English classification (Top Secret, Secret, Confidential or Restricted).

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom currently uses five levels of classification — from lowest to highest, they are: PROTECT, RESTRICTED, CONFIDENTIAL, SECRET and TOP SECRET. Those working with such material must have the relevant security clearance and often must sign to confirm their understanding and acceptance of the Official Secrets Act. Government documents without a classification may be marked as UNCLASSIFIED or NOT PROTECTIVELY MARKED. [11]

United States

The U.S. classification system is currently established under Executive Order 13292 and has three levels of classification — Confidential, Secret, and Top Secret. The U.S. had a Restricted level during World War II but no longer does. U.S. regulations state that information received from other countries at the Restricted level should be handled as Confidential. A variety of markings are used for material that is not classified, but whose distribution is limited administratively or by other laws, e.g., For Official Use Only (FOUO), or Sensitive but Unclassified (SBU). The Atomic Energy Act of 1954 provides for the protection of information related to the design of nuclear weapons. The term "Restricted Data" is used to denote certain nuclear technology. Information about the storage, use or handling of nuclear material or weapons is marked "Formerly Restricted Data." These designations are used in addition to level markings (Confidential, Secret and Top Secret). Information protected by the Atomic Energy Act is protected by law and information classified under the Executive Order is protected by Executive privilege.

Table of equivalent classification markings in various countries

(State) Top Secret Secret Confidential Restricted
Albania Teper Sekret Sekret Konfidencial I Kufizuar
Argentina Estrictamente Secreto y Confidencial Secreto Confidencial Reservado
Australia Top Secret Secret Confidential Restricted
Austria Streng Geheim Geheim Verschlußsache Nur für den Dienstgebrauch
Belgium (Dutch) Zeer Geheim Geheim Vertrouwelijk Beperkte Verspreiding
Belgium (French) Très Secret Secret Confidentiel Diffusion restreinte
Bolivia Supersecreto
or Muy Secreto
Secreto Confidencial Reservado
Bosnia Strogo Povjerljivo Tanjno Konfidencialno Restiktirano
Brazil Ultra Secreto Secreto Confidencial Reservado
Bulgaria Строго секретно Секретно Поверително За служебно ползване
Cambodia Sam Ngat Bamphot Sam Ngat Roeung Art Kambang Ham Kom Psay
Canada Top Secret/Très secret Secret/Secret Confidential/Confidentiel Protected A, B or C / Protégé A, B ou C
Chile Secreto Secreto Reservado Reservado
China, People's Republic of Juémì (绝密) Jīmì (机密) Mìmì (秘密) Nèibù (内部)
Colombia Ultrasecreto Secreto Confidencial Reserva del sumario
Costa Rica Alto Secreto Secreto Confidencial  
Croatia Vrlo tajno Tajno Povjerljivo  
Czech Republic Přísně Tajné Tajné Důvěrné Vyhrazené
Denmark Yderst Hemmeligt Hemmeligt Fortroligt Til Tjenestebrug

Foreign Service:
Fortroligt
(thin Black border)

Ecuador Secretisimo Secreto Confidencial Reservado
Egypt Sirriy lil-Ġāyah
سري للغاية
Sirriy Ǧiddan
سري جداً
Khāṣ
خاص
Maḥzūr
محظور
El Salvador Ultra Secreto Secreto Confidencial Reservado
Estonia Täiesti salajane Salajane Konfidentsiaalne Piiratud
Ethiopia Yemiaz Birtou Mistir Mistir Kilkil  
Finland Erittäin salainen (TTL I) Salainen (TTL II) Luottamuksellinen (TTL III) Viranomaiskäyttö (TTL IV)
France Très secret défense Secret défense Confidentiel défense Diffusion restreinte
Germany Streng Geheim Geheim VS-Vertraulich VS-Nur für den Dienstgebrauch
Greece Άκρως Απόρρητον Απόρρητον Εμπιστευτικόν Περιορισμένης
Χρήσης
Guatemala Alto Secreto Secreto Confidencial Reservado
Haiti Top Secret Secret Confidential Reserve
Honduras Super Secreto Secreto Confidencial Reservado
Hong Kong Top Secret, 高度機密 Secret, 機密 Confidential, 保密 Restricted, 內部文件/限閱文件
Hungary Szigorúan Titkos Titkos Bizalmas  
India परम गुप्त (Param Gupt) गुप्त (Gupt) गोपनीय (Gopniya) प्रतिबंधित/सीमित (Pratibandhit/seemit)
Indonesia Sangat Rahasia Rahasia Rahasia Dinas Terbatas
Iran Bekoliserri به کلّى سرّى Serri سرّى Kheili Mahramaneh خيلى محرمانه Mahramaneh محرمانه
Iraq Sirriy lil-Ġāyah
سري للغاية
Sirriy
سري
Khāṣ
خاص
Maḥdūd
محدود
Iceland Algert Leyndarmál Leyndarmál Þjónustuskjal Trúnaðarmál
Ireland (Irish language) An-sicreideach Sicreideach Runda Srianta
Israel Sodi Beyoter
סודי ביותר
Sodi
סודי
Shamur
שמור
Mugbal
מוגבל
Italy Segretissimo Segreto Riservatissimo Riservato
Japan Kimitsu, 機密 Gokuhi, 極秘 Hi, 秘 Toriatsukaichuui, 取り扱い注意
Jordan Maktūm Ǧiddan
مكتوم جداً
Maktūm
مكتوم
Sirriy
سري
Maḥdūd
محدود
Korea, South I-Kup Bi Mil, 1급비밀 II-Kup Bi Mil, 2급비밀 III-Kup Bi Mil, 3급비밀 Dae Woi Bi, 대외비
Laos Lup Sood Gnod Kuam Lup Kuam Lap Chum Kut Kon Arn
Latvia Sevišķi slepeni Slepeni Konfidenciāli Dienesta vajadzībām
Lebanon Tres Secret Secret Confidentiel  
Lithuania Visiškai Slaptai Slaptai Konfidencialiai Riboto Naudojimo
Malaysia Rahsia Besar Rahsia Sulit Terhad
Mexico Ultra Secreto Secreto Confidencial Restringido
Netherlands Zeer Geheim Geheim Vertrouwelijk Beperkt verspreid
New Zealand Top Secret Secret Confidential Restricted
Nicaragua Alto Secreto Secreto Confidencial Reservado
Norway STRENGT HEMMELIG HEMMELIG KONFIDENSIELT BEGRENSET
Pakistan (Urdu) Intahai Khufia Khufia Sigh-e-Raz Barai Mahdud Taqsim
Pakistan (English) Top Secret Secret Confidential Restricted
Paraguay Secreto Secreto Confidencial Reservado
Peru Estrictamente Secreto Secreto Confidencial Reservado
Philippines Top Secret Secret Confidential Restricted
Poland Ściśle tajne Tajne Poufne Zastrzeżone
Portugal Muito Secreto Secreto Confidencial Reservado
Romania Strict Secret de Importanţă Deosebită Strict Secret Secret Secret de serviciu
Russia Особой важности
(вариант: Совершенно Секретно (Sovershenno Sekretno))
Совершенно секретно
(вариант: Секретно (Sekretno))
Секретно
(вариант: Не подлежит оглашению
(Конфиденциально) (Ne podlezhit oglasheniyu (Konfidentsial'no))
Для Служебного Пользования (ДСП)
(Dlya Sluzhebnogo Pol'zovaniya)
Saudi Arabia Saudi Top Secret Saudi Very Secret Saudi Secret Saudi Restricted
Serbia Državna tajna Strogo poverljivo Poverljivo Interno
Singapore Top Secret Secret Confidential Restricted
Slovak Republic Prísne tajné Tajné Dôverné Vyhradené
Slovenija Strogo tajno Tajno Zaupno Interno
Spain Secreto Reservado Confidencial Difusión Limitada
Sweden Kvalificerat Hemlig (KH); Hemlig/Top Secret (H/TS) Hemlig (H); Hemlig/Secret H/S) Hemlig/Confidential (H/C) Hemlig/Restricted (H/R)
Switzerland Geheim / Secret Vertraulich / Confidentiel Dienstlich / Interne au service
Thailand Lap thi sut (ลับที่สุด) Lap mak (ลับมาก) Lap (ลับ)
Turkey Çok Gizli Gizli Özel Hizmete Özel
South Africa (English) Top Secret Secret Confidential Restricted
South Africa (Afrikaans) Uiters Geheim Geheim Vertroulik Beperk
Ukraine Особливої важливості Цілком таємно Таємно Для службового користування
United Kingdom TOP SECRET SECRET CONFIDENTIAL RESTRICTED
United States Top Secret Secret Confidential For Official Use Only
Uruguay Ultra Secreto Secreto Confidencial Reservado
Vietnam Tuyệt Mật Tối Mật Mật Phổ Biến Hạn Chế
NATO Cosmic Top Secret NATO Secret NATO Confidential NATO Restricted
European Union (EU) TRES SECRET UE / EU TOP SECRET SECRET UE CONFIDENTIEL UE RESTREINT UE
Western European Union (WEU) FOCAL TOP SECRET WEU SECRET WEU CONFIDENTIAL WEU RESTRICTED
Euratom EURA TOP SECRET EURA SECRET EURA CONFIDENTIAL EURA RESTRICTED

Original source: NISPOM Appendix B [5] ¹ In addition, Finland uses label Salassa pidettävä, "to be kept secret" for information which is not classified but must not be revealed on some other basis than national security. (E.g. privacy, trade secrets etc.)

Corporate classification

Private corporations often require written confidentiality agreements and conduct background checks on candidates for sensitive positions. [6] In the U.S. the Employee Polygraph Protection Act prohibits private employers from requiring lie detector tests, but there are a few exceptions. Policies dictating methods for marking and safeguarding company-sensitive information (e.g. "IBM Confidential") are common and some companies have more than one level. Such information is protected under trade secret laws. New product development teams are often sequestered and forbidden to share information about their efforts with un-cleared fellow employees, the original Apple Macintosh project being a famous example. Other activities, such as mergers and financial report preparation generally involve similar restrictions. However, corporate security generally lacks the elaborate hierarchical clearance and sensitivity structures and the harsh criminal sanctions that give government classification systems their particular tone.

Traffic Light Protocol

The Traffic Light Protocol[12][13] was developed by the G8 countries to enable the sharing of sensitive information between government agencies and corporations. This protocol has now been accepted as a model for trusted information exchange by over 30 other countries. The protocol provides for four "information sharing levels" for the handling of sensitive information.

See also

References

External links and references


"State secrets" redirects here. See also, state secrets privilege.
report[1] on the USS Liberty incident, partially declassified and released to the public in July 2003. The original overall classification of the page, "top secret", and the Special Intelligence code word "umbra," are shown at top and bottom. The classification of individual paragraphs and reference titles is shown in parentheses - there are six different levels on this page alone. Notations with leader lines at top and bottom cite statutory authority for not declassifying certain sections.]]

Classified information is sensitive information to which access is restricted by law or regulation to particular classes of persons. A formal security clearance is required to handle classified documents or access classified data. The clearance process requires a satisfactory background investigation. There are typically several levels of sensitivity, with differing clearance requirements. This sort of hierarchical system of secrecy is used by virtually every national government. The act of assigning the level of sensitivity to data is called data classification.

Some corporations and non-government organizations also assign sensitive information to multiple levels of protection, either from a desire to protect trade secrets, or because of laws and regulations governing various matters such as personal privacy, sealed legal proceedings and the timing of financial information releases.

Contents

Government classification

The purpose of classification is ostensibly to protect information from being used to damage or endanger national security. Classification formalises what constitutes a "state secret" and accords different levels of protection based on the expected damage the information might cause in the wrong hands.

Classification levels

Although the classification systems vary from country to country, most have levels corresponding to the following British definitions (from the highest level to lowest):

Top Secret (TS)

The highest level of classification of material on a national level. Such material would cause "exceptionally grave damage" to national security if made publicly available.

Secret

Such material would cause "grave damage" to national security if it were publicly available.

Confidential

Such material would cause "damage" or be "prejudicial" to national security if publicly available.

Restricted

Such material would cause "undesirable effects" if publicly available. Some countries do not have such a classification.

Unclassified

Technically not a classification level, but is used for government documents that do not have a classification listed above. Such documents can sometimes be viewed by those without security clearance.

Clearance

Depending on the level of classification there are different rules controlling the level of clearance needed to view such information, and how it must be stored, transmitted, and destroyed. Additionally, access is restricted on a "need to know" basis. Simply possessing a clearance does not automatically authorize the individual to view all material classified at that level or below that level. The individual must present a legitimate "need to know" in addition to the proper level of clearance.

Compartmented information

In addition to the general risk-based classification levels above, often there are additional constraints on access, such as (in the U.S.) Special Intelligence (SI), which protects intelligence sources and methods, No Foreign dissemination (NOFORN), which restricts dissemination to U.S. nationals, and Originator Controlled dissemination (ORCON), which ensures that the originator can track possessors of the information. Documents in some compartments are marked with specific "code words" in addition to the classification level.

Nuclear information

Government information about nuclear weapons such as nuclear warheads often has an additional marking to show it contains such information.

Sharing classified information between countries

When a government agency or group shares information between an agency or group of other country’s government they will generally employ a special classification scheme that both parties have previously agreed to honour. For example, sensitive information shared amongst NATO allies has four levels of security classification; from most to least classified, COSMIC TOP SECRET (CTS), , NATO SECRET (NS), NATO CONFIDENTIAL (NC), and NATO RESTRICTED (NR). A special case exists with regard to NATO UNCLASSIFIED (NU) information. This is NATO property and must not be made public without NATO permission.

Another marking, ATOMAL, is applied to U.S. RESTRICTED DATA or FORMERLY RESTRICTED DATA and United Kingdom ATOMIC information that has been released to NATO. ATOMAL information is marked COSMIC TOP SECRET ATOMAL (CTSA), NATO SECRET ATOMAL (NSAT), or NATO CONFIDENTIAL ATOMAL (NCA).

In cases where a country wishes to share classified information bilaterally (or multilaterally) with a country that has a sharing agreement, the information is with the countries it can be shared with. Those countries would have to maintain the classification of the document at the level originally classified (TOP-SECRET, SECRET, etc.) with the appropriate caveat (USNZ, AUSGE, CANUK, etc.).

International organisations

  • European Commission, has 5 levels, EU TOP SECRET, EU SECRET, EU CONFIDENTIAL, EU RESTRICTED, and EU COUNCIL / COMMISSION. [1] (Note that usually the French term is used)
  • NATO, has 4 levels: COSMIC TOP SECRET (CTS), NATO SECRET (NS), NATO CONFIDENTIAL (NC), and NATO RESTRICTED (NR) [2]
  • OCCAR, a European defence organisation, has three levels of classification: OCCAR SECRET, OCCAR CONFIDENTIAL, OCCAR RESTRICTED. [3].

By country

operation manual for the M-125 Fialka cipher machine. The underlined classification markings can be translated as "Cryptologic material! Secret classified material" de:Verschlusssache.]]

Most countries employ some sort of classification system for certain government information. For example, in Canada, information that the U.S. would classify SBU (Sensitive but Unclassified) is called "protected" and further subcategorised into levels A, B, and C.

Australia

National security classifications in Australia comprise TOP SECRET, SECRET, CONFIDENTIAL, RESTRICTED and UNCLASSIFIED. Background checks for access to TOP SECRET material are carried out at either of two levels: at TOP SECRET NEGATIVE VETTING (TSNV), or at the even more stringent and expensive TOP SECRET POSITIVE VETTING (TSPV) level, depending on the extent of required access to TOP SECRET material and on the potential damage to national security should such material be disclosed to unauthorised parties. Most background checks for access to TOP SECRET material are carried out at the TOP SECRET NEGATIVE VETTING level.

Australia also has a non-national security based classification system that is used in areas of the Federal Government not directly related to national security matters. This system is used for information whose compromise would not directly threaten the security of the nation, but the release of which could threaten the security or interests of individuals, groups, commercial entities, government business and interests, or the safety of the community

  • Highly protected: which broadly corresponds to SECRET in the national security system.
  • Protected : which broadly corresponds to CONFIDENTIAL in the national security system.
  • 'X'-in-confidence : which broadly corresponds to RESTRICTED in the national security system.

In addition, documents marked 'CABINET-IN-CONFIDENCE', relating to discussions in Federal Cabinet, are treated as PROTECTED.

Canada

Background and hierarchy

There are 2 main type of sensitive information designation used by the Government of Canada: Classified and Designated. The access and protection of both types of information is governed by the Security of Information Act, effective December 24, 2001, replacing the Official Secrets Act 1981[2]. To access the information, a person must have the appropriate level of clearance and a Need to know.

Special operational information

SOI is not a classification of data per se. It is defined under the Security of Information Act, and unauthorised release of such information constitutes a higher breach of trust, with penalty of life imprisonment.

SOIs include:

  • military operations in respect of a potential, imminent or present armed conflict
  • the identity of confidential source of information, intelligence or assistance to the Government of Canada
  • tools used for information gathering or intelligence
  • the object of a covert investigation, or a covert collection of information or intelligence
  • the identity of any person who is under covert surveillance
  • encryption and cryptographic systems
  • information or intelligence to, or received from, a foreign entity or terrorist group
Classified information

Classified information can be designated Top Secret, Secret or Confidential. These classifications are only used on matters of national interest.

  • Top Secret: This applies when compromise might reasonably cause exceptionally grave injury to the national interest. The possible impact must be great, immediate and irreparable.
  • Secret: This applies when compromise might reasonably cause serious injury to the national interest.
  • Confidential: When disclosure might reasonably cause injury to the national interest.
Designated information

Designated information is not classified. Designated information pertains to any sensitive information that does not relate to national security and cannot be disclosed under the access and privacy legislation because of the possible injury to particular public or private interests.[3][4]

  • Protected C (Extremely Sensitive designated information): is used to protect extremely sensitive information if compromised, could reasonably be expected to cause extremely grave injury outside the national interest. Examples could include bankruptcy, identities of informants in criminal investigations, etc.
  • Protected B (Particularly Sensitive designated information): is used to protect information that could cause severe injury or damage to the people or group involved if it was released. Examples include medical records, annual personnel performance reviews, etc.
  • Protected A (Low-Sensitive designated information): is applied to low sensitivity information that should not be disclosed to the public without authorisation and could reasonably be expected to cause injury or embarrassment outside the national interest. Example of Protected A information could include employee number, pay deposit banking information, etc.

Federal Cabinet (Queen's Privy Council for Canada) papers are either designated (ie. overhead slides prepared to make presentations to Cabinet) or classified (draft legislations, certain memos).[5]

People's Republic of China

File:Wuhan Hubei foreign affairs office
A building in Wuhan housing provincial offices for dealing with foreign countries etc. The red slogan says, "Protection of national secrets is a duty of every citizen"

The Criminal Law of the People's Republic of China (which is not operative in the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macao) makes it a crime to release a state secret. Regulation and enforcement is carried out by the National Administration for the Protection of State Secrets.

Under the 1989 "Law on Guarding State Secrets,"[6] state secrets are defined as those that concern:

  1. Major policy decisions on state affairs;
  2. The building of national defence and in the activities of the armed forces;
  3. Diplomatic activities and in activities related to foreign countries and those to be maintained as commitments to foreign countries;
  4. National economic and social development;
  5. Science and technology;
  6. Activities for preserving state security and the investigation of criminal offences; and
  7. Any other matters classified as "state secrets" by the national State Secrets Bureau.[7]

Secrets can be classified into one of three categories:

  • Top secret (绝密): Defined as "vital state secrets whose disclosure would cause extremely serious harm to state security and national interests";
  • Highly secret (机密): Defined as "important state secrets whose disclosure would cause serious harm to state security and national interests"; and
  • Secret (秘密): Defined as "ordinary state secrets whose disclosure would cause harm to state security and national interests".[7]

France

In France, classified information defined by article 413-9 of the Penal Code.[8] The three levels of military classification are

  • Confidentiel Défense (Confidential Defence): Information deemed potentially harmful to national defence, or that could lead to uncovering an information classified at a higher level of security.
  • Secret Défense (Secret Defence): Information deemed very harmful to national defence. Such information cannot be reproduced without authorisation from the emitting authority, except in exceptional emergencies.
  • Très Secret Défense (Very Secret Defence): Information deemed extremely harmful to national defence, and relative to governmental priorities in national defence. No service or organisation can elaborate, process, stock, transfer, display or destroy information or protected supports classified at this level without authorisation from the Prime Minister or the national secretary for National Defence. Partial or exhaustive reproduction is strictly forbidden.

Less sensitive information is "protected". The levels are

  • Non Protégé (unprotected)
  • Diffusion restreinte administrateur ("administrative restricted information")
  • Diffusion restreinte ("restricted information")
  • Confidentiel personnels Sous-Officiers ("Confidential non-commissioned officers")
  • Confidentiel personnels Officiers ("Confidential officers")

A further mention, "spécial France" (reserved France) restricts the document to French citizens (in its entirety or by extracts). This is not a classification level.

Declassification of documents can be done by the Commission consultative du secret de la défense nationale (CCSDN), an independent authority. Transfer of classified information is done with double envelopes, the outer layer being plastified and numbered, and the inner in strong paper. Reception of the document involves examination of the physical integrity of the container and registration of the document. In foreign countries, the document must be transferred through specialised military mail or diplomatic bag. Transport is done by an authorised convoyer or habilitated person for mail under 20 kg. The letter must bear a seal mentioning "PAR VALISE ACCOMPAGNEE-SACOCHE". Once a year, ministers have an inventory of classified information and supports by competent authorities.

Once their usage period is expired, documents are transferred to archives, where they are either destroyed (by incineration, crushing or electrical overtension), or stored.

In case of compromission of a classified information, competent authorities are the Ministry of Interior, the Haut fonctionnaire de défense et de sécurité ("high civil servant for defence and security") of the relevant ministry, and the General secretary for National Defence. Violation of such secrets is an offence punishable with 7 years of imprisonment and a 100 000 Euro fine; if the offence is committed by imprudence or negligence, the penalties are 3 years of imprisonment and a 45 000 Euro fine.

Hong Kong

The Security Bureau is responsible for developing policies in regards to the protection and handling of confidential government information. In general, the system used in Hong Kong is very similar to the UK system, developed from the Colonial Hong Kong era.

Four classifications exists in Hong Kong, from highest to lowest in sensitivity[9][dead link]:

  • Top Secret (高度機密)
  • Secret (機密)
  • Confidential (保密)
    • Temporary Confidential (臨時保密)
  • Restricted (限閱文件/內部文件)
    • Restricted (staff) (限閱文件(人事))
    • Restricted (tender) (限閱文件 (投標))
    • Restricted (administration) (限閱文件 (行政))

Restricted documents are not classified per se, but only those who have a need to know will have access to such information, in accordance with the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance.[10][dead link]

New Zealand

Like the United Kingdom, New Zealand uses the Restricted grade, which is lower than Confidential. Information with a Restricted classification is not for general dissemination, but is not classified in the strictest sense of the word - it is often used for controlling the release of reports and other documents until it can be done officially.

People may be given access to Restricted and Confidential information on the strength of an authorisation by their Head of Department, without being subjected to the background vetting associated with Secret and Top Secret clearances. New Zealand's security classifications and the national-harm requirements associated with their use are roughly similar to those of the United States.

In addition to national security classifications there are a number of classifications used within ministries and departments of the government, to indicate, for example, that information should not be released outside the originating ministry.

Because of strict privacy requirements around personal information, personnel files are controlled in all parts of the public and private sectors. Information relating to the security vetting of an individual is usually classified at the Confidential level even though it has no national security significance, because of the detail that is recorded through the vetting process.

Russian Federation

In the Russian Federation, a state secret (Государственная тайна) is information protected by the state on its military, foreign policy, economic, intelligence, counterintelligence, operational and investigative and other activities, dissemination of which could harm state security.

Sweden

The Swedish classification has been updated due to increased NATO/PfP co-operation. All classified defence documents will now have both a Swedish classification (Kvalificerat Hemlig or Hemlig), and an English classification (Top Secret, Secret, Confidential or Restricted).[citation needed]

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom currently uses five levels of classification — from lowest to highest, they are: PROTECT, RESTRICTED, CONFIDENTIAL, SECRET and TOP SECRET. Those working with such material must have the relevant security clearance and often must sign to confirm their understanding and acceptance of the Official Secrets Act. Government documents without a classification may be marked as UNCLASSIFIED or NOT PROTECTIVELY MARKED.[11]

United States

The U.S. classification system is currently established under Executive Order 13292 and has three levels of classification — Confidential, Secret, and Top Secret. The U.S. had a Restricted level during World War II but no longer does. U.S. regulations state that information received from other countries at the Restricted level should be handled as Confidential. A variety of markings are used for material that is not classified, but whose distribution is limited administratively or by other laws, e.g., For Official Use Only (FOUO), or Sensitive but Unclassified (SBU). The Atomic Energy Act of 1954 provides for the protection of information related to the design of nuclear weapons. The term "Restricted Data" is used to denote certain nuclear technology. Information about the storage, use or handling of nuclear material or weapons is marked "Formerly Restricted Data." These designations are used in addition to level markings (Confidential, Secret and Top Secret). Information protected by the Atomic Energy Act is protected by law and information classified under the Executive Order is protected by Executive privilege.

Table of equivalent classification markings in various countries

(State) Top Secret Secret Confidential Restricted
Albania Teper Sekret Sekret Konfidencial I Kufizuar
Argentina Estrictamente Secreto y Confidencial Secreto Confidencial Reservado
Australia Top Secret Secret Confidential Restricted
Austria Streng Geheim Geheim Verschlusssache Nur für den Dienstgebrauch
Belgium (Dutch) Zeer Geheim Geheim Vertrouwelijk Beperkte Verspreiding
Belgium (French) Très Secret Secret Confidentiel Diffusion restreinte
Bolivia Supersecreto
or Muy Secreto
Secreto Confidencial Reservado
Bosnia Strogo Povjerljivo Tajno Konfidencialno Restiktirano
Brazil Ultra Secreto Secreto Confidencial Reservado
Bulgaria Строго секретно Секретно Поверително За служебно ползване
Cambodia Sam Ngat Bamphot Sam Ngat Roeung Art Kambang Ham Kom Psay
Canada Top Secret/Très secret Secret/Secret Confidential/Confidentiel Protected A, B or C / Protégé A, B ou C
Chile Secreto Secreto Reservado Reservado
China, People's Republic of Juémì (绝密) Jīmì (机密) Mìmì (秘密) Nèibù (内部)
Colombia Ultrasecreto Secreto Confidencial Reserva del sumario
Costa Rica Alto Secreto Secreto Confidencial  
Croatia Vrlo tajno Tajno Povjerljivo Ograničeno
Czech Republic Přísně tajné Tajné Důvěrné Vyhrazené
Denmark Yderst Hemmeligt Hemmeligt Fortroligt Til Tjenestebrug

Foreign Service:
Fortroligt
(thin Black border)

Ecuador Secretisimo Secreto Confidencial Reservado
Egypt Sirriy lil-Ġāyah
سري للغاية
Sirriy Ǧiddan
سري جداً
Khāṣ
خاص
Maḥzūr
محظور
El Salvador Ultra Secreto Secreto Confidencial Reservado
Estonia Täiesti salajane Salajane Konfidentsiaalne Piiratud
Ethiopia Yemiaz Birtou Mistir Mistir Kilkil  
Finland Erittäin salainen (TLL I) Salainen (TLL II) Luottamuksellinen (TLL III) Viranomaiskäyttö (TLL IV)
France Très secret défense Secret défense Confidentiel défense Diffusion restreinte
Germany Streng Geheim Geheim VS-Vertraulich VS-Nur für den Dienstgebrauch
Greece Άκρως Απόρρητον Απόρρητον Εμπιστευτικόν Περιορισμένης
Χρήσης
Guatemala Alto Secreto Secreto Confidencial Reservado
Haiti Top Secret Secret Confidential Reserve
Honduras Super Secreto Secreto Confidencial Reservado
Hong Kong Top Secret, 高度機密 Secret, 機密 Confidential, 保密 Restricted, 內部文件/限閱文件
Hungary Szigorúan Titkos Titkos Bizalmas Korlátozott Terjesztésű
India परम गुप्त (Param Gupt) गुप्त (Gupt) गोपनीय (Gopniya) प्रतिबंधित/सीमित (Pratibandhit/seemit)
Indonesia Sangat Rahasia Rahasia Rahasia Dinas Terbatas
Iran Bekolli serri به کلّى سرّى Serri سرّى Kheili Mahramaneh خيلى محرمانه Mahramaneh محرمانه
Iraq Sirriy lil-Ġāyah
سري للغاية
Sirriy
سري
Khāṣ
خاص
Maḥdūd
محدود
Iceland Algert Leyndarmál Leyndarmál Þjónustuskjal Trúnaðarmál
Ireland (Irish language) An-sicreideach Sicreideach Runda Srianta
Israel Sodi Beyoter
סודי ביותר
Sodi
סודי
Shamur
שמור
Mugbal
מוגבל
Italy Segretissimo Segreto Riservatissimo Riservato
Japan Kimitsu, 機密 Gokuhi, 極秘 Hi, 秘 Toriatsukaichuui, 取り扱い注意
Jordan Maktūm Ǧiddan
مكتوم جداً
Maktūm
مكتوم
Sirriy
سري
Maḥdūd
محدود
Korea, South I-Kup Bi Mil, 1급비밀 II-Kup Bi Mil, 2급비밀 III-Kup Bi Mil, 3급비밀 Dae Woi Bi, 대외비
Korea, North Unknown, 익명의 Unknown, 익명의 Unknown, 익명의 Unknown, 익명의
Laos Lup Sood Gnod Kuam Lup Kuam Lap Chum Kut Kon Arn
Latvia Sevišķi slepeni Slepeni Konfidenciāli Dienesta vajadzībām
Lebanon Tres Secret Secret Confidentiel  
Lithuania Visiškai Slaptai Slaptai Konfidencialiai Riboto Naudojimo
Malaysia Rahsia Besar Rahsia Sulit Terhad
Mexico Ultra Secreto Secreto Confidencial Restringido
Netherlands[12] Zeer Geheim Geheim Vertrouwelijk Beperkt verspreid
New Zealand Top Secret Secret Confidential Restricted
Nicaragua Alto Secreto Secreto Confidencial Reservado
Norway STRENGT HEMMELIG HEMMELIG KONFIDENSIELT BEGRENSET
Pakistan (Urdu) Intahai Khufia Khufia Sigh-e-Raz Barai Mahdud Taqsim
Pakistan (English) Top Secret Secret Confidential Restricted
Paraguay Secreto Secreto Confidencial Reservado
Peru Estrictamente Secreto Secreto Confidencial Reservado
Philippines Top Secret Secret Confidential Restricted
Poland Ściśle tajne Tajne Poufne Zastrzeżone
Portugal Muito Secreto Secreto Confidencial Reservado
Romania Strict Secret de Importanţă Deosebită Strict Secret Secret Secret de serviciu
Russia Особой важности
(вариант: Совершенно Секретно (Sovershenno Sekretno))
Совершенно секретно
(вариант: Секретно (Sekretno))
Секретно
(вариант: Не подлежит оглашению
(Конфиденциально) (Ne podlezhit oglasheniyu (Konfidentsial'no))
Для Служебного Пользования (ДСП)
(Dlya Sluzhebnogo Pol'zovaniya)
Saudi Arabia Saudi Top Secret Saudi Very Secret Saudi Secret Saudi Restricted
Serbia Državna tajna Strogo poverljivo Poverljivo Interno
Singapore Top Secret Secret Confidential Restricted
Slovak Republic Prísne tajné Tajné Dôverné Vyhradené
Slovenija Strogo tajno Tajno Zaupno Interno
Spain Secreto Reservado Confidencial Difusión Limitada
Sweden Kvalificerat Hemlig (KH); Hemlig/Top Secret (H/TS) Hemlig (H); Hemlig/Secret H/S) Hemlig/Confidential (H/C) Hemlig/Restricted (H/R)
Switzerland Geheim / Secret Vertraulich / Confidentiel Dienstlich / Interne au service
Thailand Lap thi sut (ลับที่สุด) Lap mak (ลับมาก) Lap (ลับ)
Turkey Çok Gizli Gizli Özel Hizmete Özel
South Africa (English) Top Secret Secret Confidential Restricted
South Africa (Afrikaans) Uiters Geheim Geheim Vertroulik Beperk
Ukraine Особливої важливості Цілком таємно Таємно Для службового користування
United Kingdom TOP SECRET SECRET CONFIDENTIAL RESTRICTED
United States Top Secret Secret Confidential For Official Use Only
Uruguay Ultra Secreto Secreto Confidencial Reservado
Vietnam Tuyệt Mật Tối Mật Mật Phổ Biến Hạn Chế
NATO Cosmic Top Secret NATO Secret NATO Confidential NATO Restricted
European Union (EU) TRES SECRET UE / EU TOP SECRET SECRET UE CONFIDENTIEL UE RESTREINT UE
Western European Union (WEU) FOCAL TOP SECRET WEU SECRET WEU CONFIDENTIAL WEU RESTRICTED
Euratom EURA TOP SECRET EURA SECRET EURA CONFIDENTIAL EURA RESTRICTED

Original source: NISPOM Appendix B [4] ¹ In addition, Finland uses label Salassa pidettävä, "to be kept secret" for information that is not classified but must not be revealed on some other basis than national security. (E.g. privacy, trade secrets etc.)

Corporate classification

Private corporations often require written confidentiality agreements and conduct background checks on candidates for sensitive positions. [5] In the U.S. the Employee Polygraph Protection Act prohibits private employers from requiring lie detector tests, but there are a few exceptions. Policies dictating methods for marking and safeguarding company-sensitive information (e.g. "IBM Confidential") are common and some companies have more than one level. Such information is protected under trade secret laws. New product development teams are often sequestered and forbidden to share information about their efforts with un-cleared fellow employees, the original Apple Macintosh project being a famous example. Other activities, such as mergers and financial report preparation generally involve similar restrictions. However, corporate security generally lacks the elaborate hierarchical clearance and sensitivity structures and the harsh criminal sanctions that give government classification systems their particular tone.

Traffic Light Protocol

The Traffic Light Protocol[13][14] was developed by the G8 countries to enable the sharing of sensitive information between government agencies and corporations. This protocol has now been accepted as a model for trusted information exchange by over 30 other countries. The protocol provides for four "information sharing levels" for the handling of sensitive information.

See also

References

External links


Simple English

report [1] on the USS Liberty incident, partially declassified and released to the public in July 2003. The original overall classification of the page, "top secret", and the Special Intelligence code word "umbra," are shown at top and bottom. The classification of individual paragraphs and reference titles is shown in parentheses - there are six different levels on this page alone. Notations with leader lines at top and bottom cite statutory authority for not declassifying certain sections.]]

Classified information is sensitive information to which access is restricted by law or regulation to particular classes of people. A formal security clearance is required to handle classified documents or access classified data. The clearance process requires a satisfactory background investigation. There are typically several levels of sensitivity, with differing clearance requirements. This sort of hierarchical system of sharing information among a group of people is almost used by every national government. The operation of assigning the level of sensitivity to data is called data classification.

The purpose of classification is to protect information from being used to damage or cause danger to national security. Classification formalizes what constitutes a "state secret" and deals with different levels of protection based on the expected damage the information might cause if it reached the wrong hands.

Certain non-government organizations and corporations also have classified information, normally rather referred to as trade secrets.

Classification levels

Although the classification systems vary from country to country, most have levels corresponding to the following British definitions (from the highest level to lowest):

Top Secret (TS) 
The highest level of classification of material on a national level. Such material would cause "exceptionally grave damage" to national security if publicly available.
Secret
Such material would cause "serious damage" to national security if publicly available.
Confidential
Such material would cause "damage" or be "prejudicial" to national security if publicly available.
Restricted
Such material would cause "undesirable effects" if publicly available. Some countries do not have such a classification.
Unclassified
Technically not a classification level, but is used for government documents that do not have a classification listed above. Such documents can sometimes be viewed by those without security clearance.

Depending on the level of classification there are different rules controlling the level of clearance needed to view such information, and how it must be stored, transmitted, and destroyed. Additionally, access is restricted on a "need to know" basis. Simply possessing a clearance does not automatically authorize the individual to view all material classified at that level or below that level. The individual must present a legitimate "need to know" in addition to the proper level of clearance.

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