Wednesday, October 30, 2013

NSA Has Infiltrated Comm Between Yahoo, Google And Their Cloud‑Based Data Centers

Kevin Gosztola at FDL:

The Washington Post has revealed that the National Security Agency has infiltrated the main communications that connect Yahoo and Google to [their] 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.”

(Note: the bracketed "their" above was originally "its" in Gosztola's post, but that cannot be correct; please see the linked WaPo article for the proper reading.)

Yes, the data includes American citizens' data, because a Yahoo or Google cloud is typically not confined to servers on American soil. Not that that would probably matter to most of the NSA geeks...

UPDATE:  oh, and there's this, from the linked WaPo article:
The infiltration is especially striking because the NSA, under a separate program known as PRISM, has front-door access to Google and Yahoo user accounts through a court-approved process.
I am reminded of Lawrence Block's fictional burglar, Bernie Rhodenbarr, who occasionally waxes eloquent on the visceral thrills he experiences entering other people's homes and stealing things, even things he could afford to buy. Do Keith Alexander and James Clapper experience a similar rush when they steal data they have already obtained legitimately by a court order?


  1. My guess: Yes, they get a woodie at the thought of bypassing the courts to hoover data far and wide.They certainly can't be doing it because all that data is useful, because they have no way to process it that works better than doing a Google search. And while I was pretty sure this was going on, it's definitely disturbing to have my paranoia confirmed as fact. SIgh.

    1. 'Tux, call it "J. Edgar Hoover syndrome," I suppose. Some people prefer the sense of power they feel when they do illegally what they could well do legally. Some of these fucking nuts run our national security apparatus.



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