Cornwall has always played a notable role in the UK's telecoms history, from Marconi's transatlantic radio broadcasts to the Goonhilly satellite site receiving broadcasts from Telstar.
But ever since the leaks by Edward Snowden in 2013 another, darker side of Cornwall's role in the UK's communications landscape has come to light - the interception of internet traffic on the cables that come ashore in the county by GCHQ as part of its Tempora programme.
The documents leaked by Snowden said GCHQ had set up intercepts that allowed it to syphon data off before storing and analysing it at its Bude station, and even sharing it with the US's National Security Agency (NSA).
Since this came to light one man, Mark Thomas, set about piecing together how it all comes together, from the cables that come ashore at Porthcurno in the south to their connections with GCHQ's listening station in the north.
The result is an almost hour-long video posted on YouTube earlier this year, in which Thomas travels the county uncovering the non-descript buildings, manhole covers and even war memorials that help mask the work undertaken in Cornwall.
It's not a quick watch but it is a fascinating insight into how the sleepy, picturesque farm lanes and beaches of Cornwall are home to one of the most advanced international espionage programmes in the world.
V3 contacted Thomas to ask about the video and how he came to make it. He explained it took around four years from start to finish, with three years of detailed research followed by around a year of filming and editing.
He said the hardest thing was keeping it to an hour, given how much he uncovered during his research.
"The whole system is so huge that you can't possibly know it all without official access. This is one of the reasons the video took so long to make, I never stopped learning new information so never got around to the final process of editing. In the end I just bit the bullet when I realised I could easily fill an hour."
Thomas said he contacted all the relevant authorities before he published his video and received clearance, as noted in the film above. But he believes that as a result of the video he has been put under surveillance.
"I have paid a high personal price for making the video. The surveillance I was and still am under was so obvious it became harassment, it started to affect my mental health," he said.
"Knowing you are being watched affects your daily life and you never really feel free to be who you are because of a lack of (or even a presumed lack of) privacy."
He believes the reasons he is watched is that there are things he uncovered that left out because he knew it would cause issues, and that the knowledge he has gained makes him worth watching.
"I do not agree with mass surveillance and I know the whereabouts of nearly all of the systems laid out in the cablegate leaks," he said.
"I am probably the only person that does know and understand how this all works and where it is outside of the intelligence community - to this end I believe I still remain under surveillance."
Whether or not this is true is unknowable but as the video demonstrates he certainly has uncovered huge amounts of information on the communications systems in Cornwall and there apparent link to GCHQ.
Given all this Thomas also says he is worried that the state is extending its powers with the recently passed Investigatory Powers Bill.
"I watched as the Snoopers Charter came in and I realise we are sailing towards 1984. I am no threat to the state, I am a good person but I have a geeky interest in things like this," he said.
"Special branch were satisfied who I was when and what I was doing when I made the documentary, yet I became the subject of intrusive surveillance anyway."
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