Google and Yahoo's internal data-center fiber secretly tapped by NSA and GCHQ

A new Snowden leak, detailed in the Washington Post, reveals that the NSA and the UK spy agency GCHQ placed taps between data-centers owned by Yahoo and Google, intercepting the entire data-flow between American companies without warrants, gathering the private, sensitive data of literally tens of millions of innocent citizens of both nations. Both companies give the impression of fury bubbling beneath their careful PR statements. I can only imagine that after the companies gave the NSA front-door access through programs like PRISM, it's a serious kick in the teeth to learn that they snuck in the back door, too.

The MUSCULAR project appears to be an unusually aggressive use of NSA tradecraft against flagship American companies. The agency is built for high-tech spying, with a wide range of digital tools, but it has not been known to use them routinely against U.S. companies.

...In a statement, Google said it is “troubled by allegations of the government intercepting traffic between our data centers, and we are not aware of this activity.”

“We have long been concerned about the possibility of this kind of snooping, which is why we continue to extend encryption across more and more Google services and links,” the company said.

At Yahoo, a spokeswoman said, “We 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.”

NSA infiltrates links to Yahoo, Google data centers worldwide, Snowden documents say [Barton Gellman and Ashkan Soltani/Washington Post]

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  1. jjsaul says:

    I don't know whether it's hilarious, terrifying, or both, that the people in charge of all this ubiquitous unconstitutional surveillance added a smiley-face to their back-of-the-napkin plans.

    "Trust us" has become a reliable emetic.

  2. That is one of the best/worst smiley-faces of all time. Of. All. Time.

  3. You don't get NSA-grade hacks without some good techies (who probably have the same general traits, pleasure at finding an elegant entry point among them, as techies who aren't quisling scum). That smiley is pretty much exactly the same tone that you'd see in a presentation at any of the hacker cons, it's just that this one happens to concern a gigantic project by an unaccountable clandestine agency, rather than some guy cleverly haxxoring a Cisco IP phone or something.

  4. Are we really looking at top secret information that consists of a sketch on post-it? Which was then scanned and inserted into a power point slide like some kind of relic?

    Well, it's too weird to be made up.

  5. My little piece of naivete for the day: Why is it okay for the NSA to subvert the technologies of some of the largest companies in the world when the 14 year old kid who figures out how to bypass school tech infrastructure to post on instagram is expelled (or has her computer confiscated, or is publicly shamed, etc)?
    Yes, yes, it's the government and they're allowed to do that and so on and so forth. The NSA's peekaboo shenanigans are seriously undermining civil rights as well as business investment in America, with the corollary that businesses will likely rethink their computer security infrastructure and will also rethink their willingness to work with government officials in turning over requested data.
    All this was already hinted at, but really, NSA? WTF?

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