The National Security Agency has secretly taped the networks of Google and Yahoo to monitor real-time communication, according to newly revealed documents from whistleblower, Edward Snowden [PDF].
“The National Security Agency has secretly broken into the main communications links that connect Yahoo and Google data centers around the world, according to documents obtained from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and interviews with knowledgeable officials,” according to The Washington Post, which obtained the hand-scribbled documents.
Both Google and Yahoo maintain expensive fiber-optic data linkages in strategic data centers around the world to optimize the flow of information. This infiltration would allow the NSA to know “who sent or received e-mails and when, to content such as text, audio and video.”
Upon learning about the NSA tapping into their networks, Google released a statement, saying the company is “troubled by allegations of the government intercepting traffic between our data centers, and we are not aware of this activity.”
Codenamed, MUSCULAR, the surveillance project is operated jointly with British Intelligence agency, GCHQ.
While the NSA already had access to communication through court-sanctioned collection program PRISM, the agency may prefer international territory because it permits them to subvert American privacy law. The NSA is forbidden from spying on Americans without stringent court oversight; international law may be less restrictive.
The Post reports that upon showing this information to two engineers familiar with Google’s system, they “exploded in profanity” and said “I hope you publish this.”