A new report in the Washington Post Wednesday reveals that the NSA has secretly tapped Google and Yahoo’s overseas servers, this according to documents leaked by former contractor Edward Snowden.
According to a top-secret accounting dated Jan. 9, 2013, the NSA, along with its British counterpart the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), reportedly broke into the main fiber-optic cables that connect Google and Yahoo’s overseas servers in a controversial project called MUSCULAR.
By breaking into the servers, the NSA and GCHQ have access to data on millions of user accounts, including “metadata” indicating who sent or received e-mails and when, along with content such as text, audio, and video. Millions of these records are sent daily from the internal Yahoo and Google networks to data warehouses at the NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland.
In just 30 days, the report said, field collectors had processed and sent back 181,280,466 new records, many of them belonging to Americans.
Google and Yahoo are outraged at the news of the secret project, claiming they never gave the NSA or the GCHQ access to its systems, but had “long been concerned about the possibility of this kind of snooping,” according to Google’s chief legal officer David Drummond.
“We are outraged at the lengths to which the government seems to have gone to intercept data from our private fiber networks,” he said in a statement. “It underscores the need for urgent reform.
NSA Director Army Gen. Keith Alexander, however, denied the report, saying the agency never illegally accessed Google or Yahoo’s servers.
“This is not NSA breaking into any databases. It would be illegal for us to do that. So, I don’t know what the report is. But I can tell you factually we do not have access to Google servers, Yahoo servers. We go through a court order.”