The National Technical Assistance Centre
The National Technical Assistance Centre (NTAC) is a government unit made up of staff from a range of backgrounds in the acquisition and processing of intercepted data. It is responsible for the provision of Lawful Interception capability on behalf of law enforcement and other agencies, recovering data from seized media, and offering technical advice to government and industry on interception and data recovery and digital forensics.
There are 9 agencies that can apply for interception warrants issued under section 5 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) 2000. They are:
- The National Crime Agency
- The Metropolitan Police Service
- The Police Service of Northern Ireland
- Police Scotland
- Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs
- The Ministry of Defence
- The Security Service
- The Secret Intelligence Service
NTAC does not itself apply for interception warrants. Rather, it manages the delivery of intercepted communications to the agencies that have a lawful authorisation in place to acquire them.
NTAC includes a facility for the complex processing of lawfully obtained protected electronic information and is the lead national authority for all matters relating to the processing of protected information into intelligible form and the disclosure of key material (see Chapter 3 of the Code of practice for investigation of protected electronic information).
NTAC is an operational unit that provides support to serious crime and counter terrorism operations in the UK. Originally established under the Home Office, it became part of GCHQ in 2006.