Information Category (Security Clearance needed)
Unclassified, aka Not Classified, aka Unrestricted (no Security Clearance required)
- Standard, non-classified information.
- The vast majority of the information and documents generated by the government fall into this category.
- Normal security clearance for inactive CoSHA-licensed, intelligence service, or military personnel.
Sensitive (Security Clearance 0)
- This includes new and specialized information not considered important enough to require a security clearance, but not to be revealed to the general public without proper authorization.
- Encounters with metahumans, including most metahuman conflicts, and details of individual criminal metahumans and their powers, generally fall under this category until reviewed for public release.
- Maximum security clearance for inactive CoShA-licensed, intelligence service, or military personnel.
Confidential (Security Clearance 1+)
- “Confidential” information is information that, if disclosed without proper authorization, could reasonably be expected to cause damage to national security.
- Examples include data on most weapons or other military systems, information on troop training methods, details of individual non-criminal metahumans and their powers, and the like.
- Maximum security clearance for probationary or reserve CoShA-licensed, intelligence service, or military personnel approved for this clearance.
For Eyes Only (Security Clearance 3+)
- “For Eyes Only” information is information that, if disclosed without proper authorization, could reasonably be expected to cause moderate damage to national security.
- Examples include access to those listed under “Confidential” as well as access to (on a strictly need-to-know basis and normally supervised examination of data) those listed under “Secret”.
- Normal security clearance for active CoShA-licensed, intelligence service, or military personnel approved for this clearance.
Secret (Security Clearance 5+)
- “Secret” information is information that, if disclosed without proper authorization, could reasonably be expected to cause serious damage to national security.
- Examples include many espionage operations, key defense technological data, information on troop deployments and force composition, details of individual government-employed metahumans and their powers (specifically including metahumans employed by other governments), and most things that would harm or strain foreign relations.
- Maximum security clearance for active CoShA-licensed, intelligence service, or military personnel approved for this clearance.
Top Secret (Security Clearance 7+)
- “Top Secret” information is information that, if disclosed without proper authorization, could reasonably be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to national security.
- Examples include the keys to most cryptological systems, much wartime data, details of individual government-employed metahumans vital to national defense in case of war and their powers, and anything that might cause a war with a foreign nation if revealed.
- Security clearance for active CoShA-licensed, intelligence service, or military personnel approved for this clearance, on a need-to-know basis only.
Top Secret – Special Compartmentalized Intelligence (TS-SCI) (Security Clearance 9+)
- “TS-SCI” information is “above top secret” information that’s strictly controlled by its originator. It’s usually divided into categories based on the type of information and the agency(ies) involved.
- Examples include SI (Special Intelligence, which deals with communications and signals intelligence) and TK (Talent-Keyhole, which deals with information obtained via satellite or aerial reconnaissance). Technically, TS-SCI can fall within any of the three standard confidentiality categories, but regardless of what category it’s assigned to it’s protected with greater security than Top Secret information.
- When the government reveals TS-SCI information to an individual, he/she gains access to (or becomes part of) a Special Access Program (SAP). Each SAP has a code name that does not relate to its purpose or nature, such as “Project: THUNDERCLAP.”
- Theoretically, a security clearance only for the President, selected Chiefs of Staff, trusted advisors, intelligence service chief administrators, and those directly involved with the specific information as part of their duties. Unavailable as regular security clearance for CoShA-licensed, intelligence service, or military personnel of any status; granted only on individual, case-by-case basis.
- In actual practice (at least on Earth 842, whether the motive is pride, personality quirks, or simply the mentality of project coordinators), many classified projects have code names that relate more closely to the intent or purpose of a project than would strictly be logically acceptable.
- Some classified projects, such as the Manhattan Project (which created the nuclear bomb), Project: Rebirth (which created Captain America) and the Los Angeles Project (one of several other WWII projects to create superhumans) are so well known that it has become implausible to officially deny their existence – though details may still remain classified.
- Reputedly, there are even higher levels of Security Clearance, called Ultra or Magic, though these levels of classified information do not officially exist.
CoShA refers to the Commission of Superhuman Activities, the current authority responsible for managing information pertaining to superhumans.
Security Clearances are normally granted only after extensive background checks, psychological examinations, and personal evaluations have been performed. Yearly or more frequent reviews are made to extend the duration of any Security Clearance rated Confidential or higher (technically, a review may be made for access to Sensitive information as well, but this is rarely enforced).
An appropriate Security Clearance in itself doesn’t provide access to any and all information that falls within that category; a “need to know” must exist before information will be revealed.
Additionally, while the highest likely Security Clearance is usually assigned, erring on the side of caution, intermediate levels of Security Clearances are occasionally created when individuals need access to the information they are working with, even though it might technically be unavailable to them, and when granting a higher Security Clearance to that individual for this purpose might be questionable.
(GM Note: for purposes of the Earth 842 campaign, I’ve simplified the concept of Security Clearance slightly – the above should get you an idea of what information you can get access to depending on Security Clearance)