A Security Clearance is a status granted to Starfleet Officers, Petty Officers/Non-Commissioned Officers, Enlisted Personnel, and civilians which denotes their level of access to classified or sensative materiels, technologies and information.
OBTAINING A SECURITY CLEARANCE Edit
Security Clearances are granted based on a number of factors. Job requirement is the first factor. Some possitions require higher levels of clearance than others (IE Intelligence requires a higher clearance level than Tactical, and both require a higher clearance than Environmental Science.).
To obtain a security clearance, there is an extensive background investigation that is undertaken by Starfleet and the Federation Government. These investigations can take as little as two weeks for a low clearence, or as long as a year for Level 3 (Top Secret) clearences.
Also, within each level are classification requirements. For example, to serve as Cheif of Intelligence for Task Force 125, Lima Fleet, requires a Level 3 Bravo Clearance. This will be explained in detail more below.
Contrary to popular belief, having a clearance does not entitle you to know everything classified, for example, at Level 3 Alpha. With all classified information, regardless of it's level, you must demonstrate a need to know.
CLASSIFICATION LEVELS Edit
Classifications for sensative materiels come in 3 categories: Confidential (Level 1), Secret (Level 2), and Top Secret (Level 3). Within each are more stringent classification levels.
Level 1: Confidential Edit
Confidential is the lowest level of classification. Confidential Information is often not pertaining to sensative state secrets, such as new engines or weapons systems, but it still isn't something that Starfleet wants Joe Somebody from Anytown to know. For example, with a Confidential Security Clearance, and a Tactical Need to Know, you would know weather or not your ship has Tomahawk Anti-Ship Missiles in the inventory.
Level 2: Secret Edit
Secret is the second level of classification. Secret is more sensative than Confidential, and requires a further need to know. Many tactical personnel in Lima Fleet have a Secret security clearance, due in large part to the sensativity of weapons information. For Example, with a Secret Clearance in the Tactical Department, you know your ship has Tomahawks, and you also know how many tomahawks. However, someone with a secret clearance in Engineering might not know this information. Access requires authorised access code, verification of Clearance, Verification of Need to Know, and ID Check.
Level 3: Top Secret Edit
Top Secret is the highest acknowledged level of classification. This kind of clearance requires extensive background checks. You must also demonstrate, as usual, the need to know. Top Secret information is heavily protected, and requires an authorised access code, verification of clearance level, Verification of Need to Know, and Retinal Scan.
AUTHORISATION LEVELS Edit
Authorisation levels are a further compartmentalisation of the clearance. They are listed below in descending order.
Alpha-the highest access level. Information classified with an Alpha suffix to the classifier (IE Level 1-A) means that it is the highest sensativity at that level. For example, information about Lima Force is classified Level 1 Alpha-R (SCI, SAP, NOFORN)
Bravo: The second highest access level. Bravo Access levels are less sensative than Alpha, but are still more sensative than the norm.
Charlie: This is the "Normal" level for most classified information. Most information is classified as Charlie, for example, the number of Tomahawks carried aboard USS Shiloh is classified at level 2 Charlie.
Delta: This means the information is about to be downgraded or declassified.
"Dash R" (-R): Restricted. This adds further security to the classification.
SCI/SAP: Secure Compartmentalised Info/Special Access Program. SCI means you may only have access to part of the overall classified materiels, which is pertinent to you. SAP is a Special Access Program, which is a restrictive program for only those who are involved. Those outside may "know it's there" but not know what it is or what it does.
NOFORN: No Foriegners. This is information that cannot be disseminated to foriegn nationals. Information classified as NOFORN is highly sensative, so sensative that not even allies know about it.