Documents leaked by Edward Snowden reveal that the NSA and it’s British counterpart GCHQ have been intercepting communications transferred by way of fiber optic cables between data center hubs operated by Google and Yahoo.
The following slide from an NSA presentation shows on “Google Cloud Exploitation” shows where the public Internet intersects with the internal Google Cloud allowing for the surveillance:
The documents indicate the NSA’s MUSCULAR project sends millions of records daily containing metadata, text, audio and video to its data storage facilities at at Fort Meade, the agency’s headquarters – possibly in violation of FISA parameters.
“NSA has multiple authorities that it uses to accomplish its mission, which is centered on defending the nation. The Washington Post’s assertion that we use Executive Order 12333 collection to get around the limitations imposed by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and FAA 702 is not true,” the NSA said in a statement.
“The assertion that we collect vast quantities of U.S. persons’ data from this type of collection is also not true. NSA applies Attorney General-approved processes to protect the privacy of U.S. persons – minimizing the likelihood of their information in our targeting, collection, processing, exploitation, retention, and dissemination. NSA is a foreign intelligence agency. And we’re focused on discovering and developing intelligence about valid foreign intelligence targets only,” the agency said.
Google’s chief legal officer David Drummond said that the company has “long been concerned about the possibility of this kind of snooping, which is why we have continued to extend encryption across more and more Google services and links, especially the links in the slide.”
A spokesperson for Yahoo said they “have strict controls in place to protect the security of our data centers, and we have not given access to our data centers to the NSA or to any other government agency.”
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