During yesterday’s House intelligence committee hearing, Director for National Intelligence James Clapper said to one member of Congress, “There are many things we do in intelligence that, if revealed, would have the potential for all kinds of blowback.”
The Washington Post has revealed that the National Security Agency has infiltrated the main communications that connect Yahoo and Google to its data centers located around the world. Such revelation could have huge ramifications for the NSA.
According to documents from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden—and as reported by Barton Gellman and Ashkan Soltani, the NSA has developed a tool as part of a project called MUSCULAR. The NSA, in partnership with UK spying agency, GCHQ, are able to copy “entire data flows across fiber-optic cables that carry information between the data centers of the Silicon Valley giants.”
Over a period of 30 days from December 2012 to January 2013, the NSA sent copies of “millions of records” to warehouses at the agency’s Fort Meade headquarters. The agency’s “field collectors” were able to collect, process and send 181,280,466 records in that time span. The records included metadata and content “such as text, audio and video.”
Millions of Americans’ data can be swept up through this exploitation because digital communications and cloud storage is not confined to the United States.
An NSA presentation slide features a sketch showing where the “Public Internet” meets the “Google Cloud.” A smiley face indicates the pride the NSA has that it was able to find a way to exploit communications and access the data.
Engineers with “close ties to Google,” according to the Post, “exploded in profanity when they saw the drawing.” One even said, “I hope you publish this.”