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Report: NSA broke into Yahoo, Google data centers

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 01:09 p.m. HST, Oct 30, 2013

WASHINGTON » The National Security Agency has secretly broken into the main communications links that connect Yahoo and Google data centers around the world, the Washington Post reported, citing documents obtained from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

According to a secret accounting dated Jan. 9, 2013, NSA sends millions of records every day from Yahoo and Google internal networks to data warehouses at the agency's Fort Meade, Md., headquarters. In the last 30 days, field collectors had processed and sent back more than 180 million new records -- ranging from "metadata," which would indicate who sent or received emails and when, to content such as text, audio and video, the Post reported today on its website.

The new details about the NSA's access to Yahoo and Google data centers around the world come at a time when Congress is reconsidering the government's collection practices and authority, and as European governments are responding angrily to revelations that the NSA collected data on millions of communications in their countries. Details about the government's programs have been trickling out since Snowden shared documents with the Post and Guardian newspaper in June.

The NSA's principal tool to exploit the Google and Yahoo data links is a project called MUSCULAR, operated jointly with the agency's British counterpart, GCHQ. The Post said NSA and GCHQ are copying entire data flows across fiber-optic cables that carry information between the data centers of the Silicon Valley giants.

White House officials and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees the NSA, declined to comment, the Post said.

At Yahoo, a spokeswoman told the Post: "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."

In a statement to the Post, Google said it was "troubled by allegations of the government intercepting traffic between our data centers, and we are not aware of this activity." Getting free access to Google's data center traffic means the NSA has bypassed Google's "gold standard" security, the Post said.

The MUSCULAR project documents state that this collection from Yahoo and Google has led to key intelligence leads, the paper said.

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HanabataDays wrote:
The report(er) sounds confused about how this was probably done. It didn't involve surreptitious entry INTO the data CENTERS (cf. Watergate burglary, "black bag jobs"). And thus the claims of Google and Yahoo execs that their data centers are secure and "they haven't given access to NSA", etc, are most likely accurate -- though self-serving. These data were swiped off the high-volume, high-bandwidth fiberoptic "backbone" internet trunk lines. It's more like tapping a phone line, and it DOES require physical splices into the cables, because fiberoptic uses laser light, not electrical impulses that can be read without physically splicing into the wiring. I assume competent technicians can find these splices and deal with them in a way befitting a free country.
on October 30,2013 | 09:52AM
nodaddynotthebelt wrote:
Actually, they do not have to physically "splice" into the interface. To say that it can only be collected via a "splice" in the cabling would not be totally accurate. As with any network, the data can be collected through software programs that can hack into the system.
on October 30,2013 | 11:01AM
mitt_grund wrote:
This stuff is all authorized directly or indirectly by the Patriot Act, which in the aftermath of 9/11 was overwhelmingly supported by President Bush and Congress. I remember advising as to what would come to pass with the passage, and that Google already had its own spy apparatus in place (for commercial reasons) in Google mail and search. Also, its effect on educational institutions.

Twelve years later people are surprised? Credit Bush with an original accomplishment, and Obama with follow through. Who doesn't want take down a few radical Muslims even at the cost of personal freedoms?

Another outcome of such a vigilant national mood was the rise of the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei or National Socialist (Nazi) Party of Germany. In spirit, it spoke a new revival of Germany, pulling it out of the shameful aftermath of WW I. Much like the Tea Party that wants to return to a white-ruled America. Ja wohl! Sieg heil!

on October 30,2013 | 10:18AM
HD36 wrote:
Yoo got it almost right except for the Tea Party and white ruled America part. What do sound money principles and liberty have to do with caucasions ruling Amrica. The people who benefit the most from the current fiscal and monetary policies of Quantitative Easing forever are the institutions who have their beak in the $85 billion dollar a month debt monetization scheme. These would be the primary dealers of treasury bonds and the institutions who got bailed out to the tune of $800 billion dollars during TAARP. These would also be the secret owners of the Federal Reserve, JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, etc.. The Tea Party was opposed to the bailout and of the QE to infinity policy which will result in a currency and bond collapse which they will blame on the Tea Party for not wanting to raise the debt ceiling. But the reason for the QE is the size of our debt, now over $100 trillion if you include unfunded liabilities.
on October 30,2013 | 03:13PM
Solara wrote:
These violations just don't end! Benjamin Franklin said, "People willing to trade their freedom for temporary security deserve neither and will lose both.” I am in complete agreement with him on this point so mitt_grund, you asked, "Who doesn't want take down a few radical Muslims even at the cost of personal freedoms?" I am one. The liberties Americans used to have was part of what made this country so great. Many natural citizens don't realize this. Personal freedoms have been taken for granted for so long that there is no real appreciation of them and people too caught up in their personal affairs to look up at the world around them and participate in societal affairs will be in for the shock of their lives when they find themselves living in a socialist state with very few personal freedoms. I hope this doesn't come to pass but I see it creeping up on us slowly but surely.
on October 30,2013 | 10:34AM
RichardCory wrote:
I think mitt_grund was being a bit tongue-in-cheek with that remark. The rest of that post seems to acknowledge that the NSA is a byproduct of nationalist fearmongering much like that which gave rise to Nazi Germany.
on October 30,2013 | 01:03PM
Slow wrote:
I used to be proud of being an American. Not now.
on October 30,2013 | 10:52AM
Publicbraddah wrote:
I think we found out who Big Brother is.
on October 30,2013 | 10:56AM
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