A black room is part of a communications center (e.g. a post office) used by state officials to conduct clandestine interception and surveillance of communications. Typically all letters or communications would pass through the black room before being passed to the recipient. This practice had been in vogue since the establishment of posts, and was frequently used in France by the ministers of Louis XIII and his followers as cabinet noir (French for "black room").
In modern American network operations centers, optical splitters divert a percentage of the laser light from all incoming and outgoing fiber-optic cables to the secret room. An example is Room 641A in the SBC Communications building in San Francisco.
The term black room or black chamber has also been used to refer to any place or organisation dedicated to code-breaking.
- Black Chamber at espionageinfo
Kahn, David (2006-01-13). "Back When Spies Played by the Rules". The New York Times. Retrieved 21 May 2010.
London's was in Abchurch Lane, near St. Paul's. Black chambers resembled laboratories.
- Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Cabinet Noir". Encyclopædia Britannica. 4 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 920.
- Mark Klein (31 December 2005). "AT&T's Implementation of NSA Spying on American Citizens" (PDF). Wired. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-06-03.