Both Google and Yahoo expressed outrage at the report of the National Security Agency’s access to the data traveling over the fiber optic cables linking company data centers.
This comes shortly after it was revealed that the White House both knew and approved of the NSA’s surveillance of major foreign allied leaders along with international outcry in France, Mexico, Spain and elsewhere.
The Washington Post reported on Wednesday that the NSA has the ability to collect information “at will” from hundreds of millions of Google and Yahoo accounts, citing documents leaked by Edward Snowden.
The documents show that the NSA, with the help of GCHQ, can apparently copy massive amounts of private data as it is transported across fiber optic cables between Google and Yahoo data centers around the world.
David Drummond, Google’s chief legal officer, said the company was “outraged” by the latest revelations.
However, Google has had a tight relationship with the U.S. intelligence community for quite some time now.
“We do not provide any government, including the US government, with access to our systems,” Drummond said.
Yet the earlier reports of the Prism program seemed to indicate just that.
“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,” Yahoo said in a statement, according to the Guardian.
As was the case in the past, these denials seem to just be cleverly worded attempts to avoid the issue entirely.
The leaked documents never actually said that the NSA accessed the data centers. Thus, the statements from Yahoo and Google are actually denying something that was never said.
The documents actually said that the “NSA collected the data, including entire copies of Yahoo email accounts, as they were sent over fiber-optic lines between company data centers,” according to The Los Angeles Times.
When NSA director Gen. Keith Alexander was asked about the Post story Wednesday, he said he was unaware of it, according to Politico.
Alexander also said that the NSA did not have the authorization to access data centers but instead has to “go through a court process” to get consent to do so.
In the past, it was reported that GCHQ had access to fiber optic cables that enabled bulk collection on a scale previously unimaginable.
A top-secret document dated Jan. 9, 2013 states that the NSA sends millions of records obtained from Google and Yahoo to data warehouses in Fort Meade every day, according to the Post.
Over 181 million new records, including text, audio, video and metadata, were processed and stored in the 30 days preceding Jan. 9, 2013, according to the report.
Thus far, officials from the White House and Office of the Director of National Intelligence have declined to confirm, deny or explain if/why the agency access the networks of Google and Yahoo abroad, according to the Post.
If the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees the NSA, responds, one can assume that it will likely be another cleverly worded denial.
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