New Snowden bombshell: NSA secretly tapping Google’s, Yahoo’s data pipelines to harvest metadata — and content

posted at 5:21 pm on October 30, 2013 by Allahpundit

And of course, some of that metadata and content was generated by Americans. How can the NSA get away with that? In theory, because of geography. Some of Google’s and Yahoo’s data centers and the fiber-optic pipelines that connect them are located outside the United States, and the rules on foreign surveillance are less strict than Fourth Amendment/FISA limitations on domestic surveillance. Is it okay for the U.S. government to hack an American company as long as the hacking occurs outside the borders of the United States? Does that magically transform domestic surveillance into “foreign”?

According to a top secret accounting dated Jan. 9, 2013, NSA’s acquisitions directorate sends millions of records every day from Yahoo and Google internal networks to data warehouses at the agency’s Fort Meade headquarters. In the preceding 30 days, the report said, field collectors had processed and sent back 181,280,466 new records — ranging from “metadata,” which would indicate who sent or received e-mails and when, to content such as text, audio and video.

The NSA’s principal tool to exploit the data links is a project called MUSCULAR, operated jointly with the agency’s British counterpart, GCHQ. From undisclosed interception points, the NSA and GCHQ are copying entire data flows across fiber-optic cables that carry information between the data centers of the Silicon Valley giants…

In an NSA presentation slide on “Google Cloud Exploitation,” … a sketch shows where the “Public Internet” meets the internal “Google Cloud” where their data resides. In hand-printed letters, the drawing notes that encryption is “added and removed here!” The artist adds a smiley face, a cheeky celebration of victory over Google security.

Two engineers with close ties to Google exploded in profanity when they saw the drawing. “I hope you publish this,” one of them said…

The Google and Yahoo operations call attention to an asymmetry in U.S. surveillance law: While Congress has lifted some restrictions on NSA domestic surveillance on the grounds that purely foreign communications sometimes pass over U.S. switches and cables, it has not added restrictions overseas, where American communications or data stores now cross over foreign switches.

One of the briefing documents on MUSCULAR swiped by Snowden asserts that it’s “produced important intelligence leads against hostile foreign governments.” Interestingly, rather than make that argument, NSA chief Keith Alexander flatly denied that the NSA is engaged in any pipeline-tapping when asked for comment on the new WaPo story this afternoon. (He’s denied Snowden’s allegations before, though, notes NBC, only to have them proved true later.) If all of this sounds vaguely familiar, there’s a reason. The NSA also tapped fiber-optic data pipelines located inside the U.S. a few years ago and got a rare rebuke from the FISA Court for it. I mentioned it in this post. Siphoning off data “upstream” here at home ended up pushing too many communications by American citizens into the NSA’s net, which the Court declared was a violation of the Fourth Amendment. WaPo notes in its new story on MUSCULAR that it’s “not clear” how much data is collected from American clients of Google/Yahoo by the NSA, and there is, apparently, some attempt to minimize the amount via search filters. But given the sheer volume of what’s being sucked up, that can only do so much.

What’s novel about this new scoop is that it’s less about the NSA potentially violating the privacy of individual Americans than it is about the feds engaging in cyberespionage against American companies — and not just any companies, but companies that have been cooperative in sharing user data with the NSA under programs like PRISM. It confirms the impression of an agency whose appetite for information is so voracious that it’ll happily cannibalize its partners just to get a little extra, even if they’re U.S. entities. If they’re reduced to arguing that it’s technically legal because they “only” hacked the parts of Google’s and Yahoo’s systems that are located in Europe, not the ones located here, that’ll hurt them even more, I think. That distinction seems far too formalistic to rebut the basic objection that Uncle Sam shouldn’t be in the practice of quietly stealing mountains of intellectual property from American businesses.

The irony is, per the last paragraph of the excerpt above, this might further tie the NSA’s hands abroad, where nearly everyone agrees they should have a freer hand to operate because it’s easier to target foreigners exclusively there. They’re already back on their heels because of the uproar over them tapping Merkel’s phone; now, if there’s a new uproar over this, Congress may feel pressured to impose new restrictions on how the agency operates internationally to limit its ability to target U.S. citizens or corporations overseas. What a backfire, if it happens. Exit question: Why did they feel the need to tap Google’s and Yahoo’s data centers if they were already being handed information by the companies under PRISM? WaPo tries to explain but I’m not seeing it.


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google is still just as evil as any govt.

chasdal on October 30, 2013 at 5:22 PM

So, do we know if he is a traitor or a hero yet?

Bmore on October 30, 2013 at 5:23 PM

Drudge now

UPDATE: GOOGLE takes secrecy to new heights with mystery barge…

‘Floating data center’…

Schadenfreude on October 30, 2013 at 5:23 PM

Bmore on October 30, 2013 at 5:23 PM

think there are still some people on the fence about that?

chasdal on October 30, 2013 at 5:24 PM

chasdal on October 30, 2013 at 5:24 PM

Too be sure. Just as there are people who love 0 and 0Care.

Schadenfreude on October 30, 2013 at 5:23 PM

Barges have been known to sink you understand.

Bmore on October 30, 2013 at 5:26 PM

Beta male mail.
They can do this, but they cannot create a simple site?

CherryBombsBigBrownBeaver on October 30, 2013 at 5:27 PM

Drudge now

UPDATE: GOOGLE takes secrecy to new heights with mystery barge…

‘Floating data center’…

Schadenfreude on October 30, 2013 at 5:23 PM

Or, it is GOOGLE trying to help the NSA by parking our information just off shore so it is considered accessible.

astonerii on October 30, 2013 at 5:27 PM

Sorry, To.

Bmore on October 30, 2013 at 5:28 PM

Amazing that the same government that taps into this much data cannot build a website!

WashJeff on October 30, 2013 at 5:30 PM

Oh, poor Google. In bed with the federal govt. for years, sharing the data of their users with the federal govt. for years, sending millions to fascist democrat politicians for years — and the useful idiots were all the time telling themselves, “Yeah, but they’re OUR fascists!” Hey, Google execs, just IMAGINE the material the feds have harvested from YOUR private accounts. Oh yeah, you’ll be doing their bidding for a long, long time. They’ll be making you an offer you can’t refuse. Isn’t it fun to be in the mob?

Rational Thought on October 30, 2013 at 5:30 PM

Why don’t we quit beating around the bush, and just say everything. They got everything they had the technological ability to gather, not what they were legally allowed to gather, but everything they were able to gather.

DFCtomm on October 30, 2013 at 5:31 PM

Exit question: Why did they feel the need to tap Google’s and Yahoo’s data centers if they were already being handed information by the companies under PRISM? WaPo tries to explain but I’m not seeing it.

Because it’s who they are. Leftists are compulsive snoops driven by the desire to know all and control all.

This has nothing to do with logic or any real need. It has to do with wanting absolute power and control over everything and everyone. It’s a personality disorder of all Utopians.

INC on October 30, 2013 at 5:33 PM

Exit question: Why did they feel the need to tap Google’s and Yahoo’s data centers if they were already being handed information by the companies under PRISM?

Easy; because they weren’t getting what they wanted in the information they were ‘handed’.

Midas on October 30, 2013 at 5:35 PM

No sympathy for google here. Without google the REB probably could not have won reelection.

slickwillie2001 on October 30, 2013 at 5:37 PM

So, in theory, NSA could be spying on BMW, Mercedes, Nissan, etc. for GM (Government Motors)?

albill on October 30, 2013 at 5:38 PM

Exit question: Why did they feel the need to tap Google’s and Yahoo’s data centers if they were already being handed information by the companies under PRISM?

Because it has become nothing more than a democrat party political blackmail program and they weren’t getting the goods they needed on the people they needed.

Rational Thought on October 30, 2013 at 5:38 PM

I think their primary motivation was that they did it because they can and they wanted to do it. It had little to do with whether or not they needed more info.

INC on October 30, 2013 at 5:41 PM

I just googled “how to F*ck google over…” er…/

ted c on October 30, 2013 at 5:42 PM

ted c on October 30, 2013 at 5:42 PM

Lol.

Bmore on October 30, 2013 at 5:43 PM

So, do we know if he is a traitor or a hero yet?

Bmore on October 30, 2013 at 5:23 PM

I’m inclined towards ‘hero’ at this point; should I not be?

Midas on October 30, 2013 at 5:43 PM

So, in theory, NSA could be spying on BMW, Mercedes, Nissan, etc. for GM (Government Motors)?

albill on October 30, 2013 at 5:38 PM

Now you see why big business loves big government. It can use it, in any number of ways, to destroy competition.

DFCtomm on October 30, 2013 at 5:46 PM

Midas on October 30, 2013 at 5:43 PM

No, not at all. You are a free Man. I have never decided. Nor I believe have many. Thus far I am at best torn. There is good, there is bad. I just noticed the debate of his status has died down a wee bit. So…….I still ask. Just in our little community here at HA. ; ) For the record I’m not sure that there will ever be a correct answer or way to respond.

Bmore on October 30, 2013 at 5:46 PM

Hey, Google execs, just IMAGINE the material the feds have harvested from YOUR private accounts. Oh yeah, you’ll be doing their bidding for a long, long time. They’ll be making you an offer you can’t refuse. Isn’t it fun to be in the mob?

Rational Thought on October 30, 2013 at 5:30 PM

Very enjoyable!

vityas on October 30, 2013 at 5:47 PM

Does that magically transform domestic surveillance into “foreign”?
=====================================================================
Could be,..
..well, in the Liberal mindset, International Law trumps US Law!
(sarc)

canopfor on October 30, 2013 at 5:49 PM

NSA secretly tapping Google’s, Yahoo’s data pipelines to harvest metadata — and content

Whatever
:O

burrata on October 30, 2013 at 5:49 PM

I use Lightbeam, Ghostery, and DoNotTrackMe in Firefox to avoid all kinds of creepy third party leeches from spying on me. In Lightbeam I can see what countries trackers are located and can block them. I have anything with GOOGLE or subsidiaries of GOOGLE blocked. I also use IXQUICK as my search engine. I may not block them all, but Lightbeam tells me who is looking over my shoulder. Lightbeam works on Firefox version 24 and above only. I’m running version 25 and I am a happy camper.

timberline on October 30, 2013 at 5:52 PM

Google likes doing the snooping and gets upset when someone is doing it back to them.

Wigglesworth on October 30, 2013 at 6:00 PM

.

..

…..

…….

………..

I’ve been sending coded information to Skynet for years….

Just in case.

MichaelGabriel on October 30, 2013 at 6:00 PM

Your search – rovi55osvksavlwn – did not match any documents.

Suggestions:

Make sure all words are spelled correctly.
Try different keywords.
Try more general keywords.

Machines and programs will never be able to comprehend one thing:

Human irrationality.

MichaelGabriel on October 30, 2013 at 6:05 PM

They ignored Hasan.
They ignored the shoe bomber and let him on the plane.
They ignored the Tsarnaevs.

So why in hell should we let them spy on us when they IGNORE TERRORISTS in front of their faces??

PattyJ on October 30, 2013 at 6:06 PM

Jim Bohannon had on a former intelligence officer who was desperately trying to down play this as necessary, and said Snowden had been a Russian intelligence asset before he was even hired as a contractor..

It according to him, was the Russian intelligence service trying to scare Congress into crippling the NSA..

That might be a lot more plausable, if Obama wasn’t a wannabe Chavez who’s abusing his power to the point were he a republican… every alphabet network would be screaming impeach impeach impeach…

but he’s black..

and a democrat..

so the networks ignore his abuses.. even when he does it to them..

So how much of this collected data is being stored away in democrat party computers for future use to extort and destroy opposition figures?

He uses the IRS to target his “enemies” believing he’s doing the same with the NSA is no stretch, it’s entirely consistent with his past behavior..

Obama’s a brown shirted thug.. that so called no-information voters haven’t figured that out yet shows how Obama used the stupid vote to get re-elected.

mark81150 on October 30, 2013 at 6:07 PM

No, not at all. You are a free Man. I have never decided. Nor I believe have many. Thus far I am at best torn. There is good, there is bad. I just noticed the debate of his status has died down a wee bit. So…….I still ask. Just in our little community here at HA. ; ) For the record I’m not sure that there will ever be a correct answer or way to respond.

Bmore on October 30, 2013 at 5:46 PM

I think he’s a guy with narcissistic, self-righteous tendencies who values his ‘citizenship of the world’ above his US citizenship. I’ve also noticed that he’s quite fond of Julian Assange, Bradley Manning, and Glenn Greenwald.

Such a person doesn’t sound like a hero to me, despite whatever good he might do…I’ll add that the retarded (and revealing) personal attacks I’ve seen directed at those who’ve expressed a lack of respect for him has amused me greatly! :)

Anti-Control on October 30, 2013 at 6:08 PM

Of course, Google will return one (and only one) result for :
rovi55osvksavlwn

This thread at Hot Air.

Hey Google, “would you like to play a game”?

MichaelGabriel on October 30, 2013 at 6:10 PM

Has someone told the President?

rob verdi on October 30, 2013 at 6:11 PM

Has someone told the President?

rob verdi on October 30, 2013 at 6:11 PM

No, they’re afraid he might get really angry.

HumpBot Salvation on October 30, 2013 at 6:22 PM

elgooG

APACHEWHOKNOWS on October 30, 2013 at 6:28 PM

Snowden is looking more and more everyday as a HERO, not a traitor….he may have committed the greatest act of civil disobedience, not treason, that this country as ever seen…..

He has exposed how deeply invested our elected government is in knowing EVERYTHING about our lives, despite our right to privacy, in order to “control” us — however you want to define that….

Thoughts???

LordMaximus on October 30, 2013 at 6:40 PM

MeanWhile, ………………………

U.S. spy agency denies that it eavesdropped on Vatican

WASHINGTON/VATICAN CITY | Wed Oct 30, 2013 6:34pm EDT

(Reuters) – The National Security Agency, responsible for U.S. electronic eavesdropping, said on Wednesday that it does not target the Vatican and called an Italian media report that it had done so “not true.”
(More….)
===========

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/10/30/us-vatican-usa-spying-idUSBRE99T1H720131030?feedType=RSS&feedName=topNews

canopfor on October 30, 2013 at 6:56 PM

NSA surveillance programs leaked

Google on NSA: We are outraged at the lengths to which the govt seems to have gone to intercept data from our private fiber networks – @mitchellreports

9 mins ago from twitter.com/mitchellreports by editor

canopfor on October 30, 2013 at 7:16 PM

New Snowden bombshell: NSA secretly tapping Google’s, Yahoo’s data pipelines to harvest metadata — and content

Oh, great-more tinfoil hat stuff.

What’s next…the U.S. is arming Al Qaeda and running drugs and guns?

Pleeez.

/s

Dr. ZhivBlago on October 30, 2013 at 8:15 PM

So, not done being useful idiots for the leftist anti-defense industry yet?

Count to 10 on October 30, 2013 at 8:34 PM

So, not done being useful idiots for the leftist anti-defense industry yet?

Count to 10 on October 30, 2013 at 8:34 PM

Seems like armaments manufacturers and drone makers, in short, the military-industrial complex, have done very well under Obama, just as under the Dems in WW I, WW II, Korea and Vietnam.

The external threats are hyped up to increase the Federal government’s power, reduce our Liberties and increase profits for a select group of banks and companies.

Washington pretended to fight the external Cold War, but when someone like Sen. McCarthy was trying to fight it internally, he was destroyed. In fact, both Stalin and Mao would have been destroyed if it weren’t for Washington and western banking houses.

The Communists are winning because we have collectively eaten up their pseudo-patriotic propaganda BS.

Dr. ZhivBlago on October 30, 2013 at 8:46 PM

:Conspiracy Theory Alert:

Is it possible,however remote….that those with the “need to know”, are not collecting data, information, whatever for nefarious reasons…per se. What if they know something big is on the horizon? A complete shut-down of the web. A complete loss of communication online with the US and the world.

What if they are attempting to not just data mine…but data “ark”. A separate infrastructure, able to replace what we know as the web now, with a replicant of sorts. A depository of information. The collected works of human kind. What catastrophe would instigate this scenario? Natural? War?…Martial Law?

What would happen if the US government just threw a switch and until they deem otherwise, the only thing you could use your computer for was to play spider solitaire?

Have you really paid attention to almost over-night, the amount of data collection and storage sites popping up? What the skcuf really going on?

~Knave

Renee on October 30, 2013 at 8:54 PM

Snowden is looking more and more everyday as a HERO, not a traitor…
Thoughts???

LordMaximus on October 30, 2013 at 6:40 PM

.
I’m tending to agree… his revelations have consistently brought new information to light for the American people who want to look at it and consider it. No one is happy with NSA policies regarding snooping right now primarily because of the revelations of Snowden.
.
Let the h8 begin…

ExpressoBold on October 30, 2013 at 8:56 PM

Snowden is looking more and more everyday as a HERO, not a traitor…
Thoughts???

LordMaximus on October 30, 2013 at 6:40 PM

He can be both. More precisely, a traitor whose treachery exposed something ugly in DC.

slickwillie2001 on October 30, 2013 at 9:10 PM

So, do we know if he is a traitor or a hero yet?

Bmore on October 30, 2013 at 5:23 PM

No doubt about it, Alexander is a traitor.

Dusty on October 30, 2013 at 9:30 PM

Snowden is looking more and more everyday as a HERO, not a traitor…
Thoughts???

LordMaximus on October 30, 2013 at 6:40 PM

Wouldn’t say “hero”…to me that’s someone who falls on a live grenade or the like.

Wouldn’t say “traitor”, either.

Perhaps I would say that this individual is useful in exposing the various crimes of this government. Just because its our government, we need to quit waving the Flag around and defending it no matter what.

Dr. ZhivBlago on October 30, 2013 at 10:13 PM

No surprise here. The goal has always been facism starting with the government takeover of General Motors. You know what you get when you lay down with dogs.

lea on October 31, 2013 at 10:25 AM