The former technical analyst for the CIA, Edward Snowden, who leaked a treasure trove of documents earlier detailing the National Security Agency’s various electronic spying programs is back with another cache of highly classified documents. These documents, which have been provided and confirmed by sources to The Washington Post, reveal that the NSA tapped into Google and Yahoo data centers around the world without telling either company. This, despite the fact that both companies are already said to be involved in PRISM, a program that gives the NSA front door access to their user accounts through a process approved by FISA courts.
Documents reveal that the NSA collects millions of records from the data centers every day and sends them to its data warehouses at Fort Meade. Data collected ranges from metadata, such as information about senders and recipients of emails, to actual content of the emails, such as photos, videos or any other attachments. MUSCULAR is said to be the tool used for data exploitation, which the NSA apparently uses in partnership with its eavesdropping counterpart in the UK, GCHQ. Apparently both agencies are tapping fiber-optic cables to copy all of the data that flows through them. Previous documents leaked by Snowden reveal that NSA and GCHQ already collaborate on another spying program called Tempora.
When reached by the Post for comment, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and White House officials declined to say anything. In a statement, Google said that is is “troubled” by allegations that the government is intercepting traffic between its data centers, and that its not aware of such activity. Yahoo’s statement is along the same lines, adding that it has “strict controls” in place to safeguard its data centers, and that it has not given access to its data centers to the National Security Agency. If what’s described in these documents is true, and the NSA is actively tapping into Google and Yahoo data centers, then the number of people affected by it would effectively run into hundreds of millions, people who’re not necessarily citizens of the U.S.A.