Your Private Messages Might Travel Under This Beach
Tom Scott Your Private Messages Might Travel Under This Beach

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In Porthcurno, Cornwall, there's an old telegraph cable landing station. It's how Britain talked to the Empire -- and it's now a museum. But the technology here isn't quite as obsolete as you might think. Thanks to Steve and all the team at the Porthcurno Telegraph Museum! You can find out more about them here: Edited by Michelle Martin (@mrsmmartin) I'm at on Twitter at on Facebook at and on Snapchat and Instagram as tomscottgo


Crumpet Jones : "Don't always believe what you see on Youtube" **Tom sweats intensely**

Alain Rochette : _"Don't always believe what you see on youtube"_ - Some guy on youtube

Eastyy : Came in my email as" Tom scott has uploaded your private messag ". Nearly gave me a heart attack

Real Engineering : Never heard about this. Down the research rabbit hole I go.

Ice Carbon X : When your message goes to the beach but not you.

EveryoneHatesAlexander : Those flame throwers got it lookin’ like the Micheal Bay

SirBanana : Who would win: The entire island of Jersey, or some anchor

Gavin : Hopefully Zuckerberg doesn’t live under it...

TackerTacker : Get your shovel! We're going data mining.

Sam : There is a lot packed into the phrase "not a coicidence." The UK is part of the Five Eyes, a coalition of the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada (basically the five most industrial English speaking countries with good relations). These countries all spy on each others internet activity and then share the data so that each can then get access to data about their own citizens and, well, the majority of communication around the world which usually passes along the cables into or out of at least one of them at some point. The organization started during the Cold War, became public in the 1990s, and had the internet signals intelligence program leaked by Snowden a few years back.

landnanners2011 : So when Tom uploaded this video. A copy of it was sent via those same cables to all the youtube servers around the world. Just think about that

Mister Apple : I'm going to share this around in the hope that this video (or a link to it, anyway) will travel through the cables discussed in the video itself.

Nate and Noah Try Life : I’ve never seen those flamethrower walls, those are terrifying!

Stijn Stevens : 100GB/s? That's actually a lot less than I would have expected.

Aspect Science : Well this *shore* is eye-opening, thanks Tom for every *shingle* bit of info in this video....

Kablstr : *Chinese fisherman opens up a washed up message in a time capsule* “Send Nudes”

Joel Foster : i get overly-excited whenever i see you've uploaded

Danish Qureshi : If you put your ear up to a conch shell, you may just hear the desperate cries of boys just wanting to get laid.

Powah : Son of a beach.

Valter Östberg : Flamethrowers on a beach? Sure, that'll do wonders for the grey seals.

joshrob2019 : just out of curiosity was it 100 gigabytes a second or 100 gigabits a second as the terms are often referred to as the same.

ChaosMagick : I live near a cable like this in Cornwall. There is a nondescript building nearby that the council has been considering concealing with shrubbery because last year some random dude just... walked in. And took photos. There is also a miscellaneous sign on a nearby beach that says, 'Caution - undersea cable" on it. Apparently, it handles like, 50% of the incoming connections to Britain. The greatest irony is that though I live a few miles from LITERALLY ALL OF THE INTERNET COMING THROUGH BRITAIN I have terrible internet connection at home because it goes all the way to London and back before the internet reaches us.

Grumpy Git : "your message is flashing under this beach" Its also flashing at one of the datacentres of the GCHQ, or the intelligence branches of one of the 14 eyes. (countries with cyber/regular intellignece sharing agreements) Their work is literally Zuck's wet dream

Azhar zul : imagine moving image of NOT SAFE FOR WORK media flowing on that every second.

Iron Pyrite : 0:13 And I thought people went to beaches to beat the heat.

F1rools22 : Isn’t it really annoying when you go to a place and just a couple of weeks later Tom uploads a video from there?

Jisper Plomp : What if this video went through this exact wire?

Kevy Elyod : Tom could your next video be about Goonhillly it was a GCHQ station that was used to spy or gather SIGING from the Irish mobile phone network During the 1990’s. I think most GCHQ SIGINT is embedded in private ISP facilities posing as “something else”.

LudvigIndestrucable : I am assuming that you wouldn't make an elementary mistake, but you said 100GB/s, so the cable is ~800Gbps?

Steve Lovelace : Watching here in the US, I realized that this video probably went under Porthcurno beach on its way to a US YouTube server.

QuaTsar : That anchor can slide into those dms

Talha Akram : I love old technology, not only is it extremely interesting to learn how computers and communication have progressed but also the components and equipment used to build it are quite impressive in their function and design, the techno-steampunkesque esthetic of the valve terminations (at 0:50) is not as common (if at all incorporated) in the design of modern technology.

AptgetSarah : I've been there! :D The Museum is well worth checking out and also go along the road and go the Minack Theatre as it's breathtaking :O

Cloudycap : What a gorgeous beach

Ben Reeve : Mark Thomas' channel has a great 1 hour documentary on the 'secret cables of Cornwall' and those Cornish 'houses' with suspiciously large numbers of manhole covers outside!!

EmmanuelMess : Loved that you explained orbiting as falling, helps prevent misinformation.

Peter McGrath : I was just staying in porthcurno on holiday when this video was being recorded! When I was at the museum I though it might be something you would be interested in!!

Circa Today : 2:50 "Don't always believe in what you see on film... or youtube" so should I believe on this video?

metropod : You’re making the assumption there that the only communication satellites are in geostationary orbit. There are hundreds of low earth orbiting comsats like Iridium and Orbcomm. The Iridium fleet actually orbits low enough we can see them as momentary flashes in the sky as they reflect off sunlight, termed “Iridium Flares”

Dave H : What's interesting is there are several undersea cable terminals in western Greenland. They seem to be stopovers for cables between the Canadian Arctic and Britain / Europe. It wouldn't surprise me if the military was involved.

Gabey : omg I live so close to here! damn I would definitely would have said hi if I saw you

Design ‧ Create ‧ Experience : I've been there! Tom, are you going to visit and do a piece on the Minack Theatre carved into the cliff around the corner? That beach also has a shelf of sand that drops like a cliff under the water in just a few feet. Walk out 10 feet into the water and you go from paddling to treading water.

Tzelemel : Oh, so you're the reason Porthcurno beach saw an unprecedented influx of visitors this summer, were you?

TheNguyenGPham : Back then it was used in the war. *RIGHT NOW it's used to slide into the DMs.*

Cornwall Discover : I literally live about 1/2 a mile away from Porthcurno!

Joshua-John Wheeler : See, I did know that... But only because I grew up a few mins walk away...

Bart Prower : It's a fantastic place to visit. Just be sure to give yourself plenty of time - so much to see. Thanks Tom, great video as always!

Aros of Kernow : "Far South-West of England", I think you mean West Cornwall >:(

Marionette Loves Gaming : i live near here! thanks for finding me a place i can intercept global communications tom!