NSA Accused to Routinely Eavesdropping on Google and Yahoo Data Traffic
The USA spy agencies have been embroiled in another scandal after it was claimed that they routinely tap into the data centres operated by Google and Yahoo to monitor emails and search traffic.
Both companies expressed alarm at the report that the NSA has hacked into their data links.
The NSA's director, Gen Keith Alexander told Bloomberg TV: "We are not authorised to go into a US company's servers and take data."
However, it was noted that while the NSA is banned from accessing information in the USA about US citizens, thanks to the distributed nature of the search engine's data servers, it is quite possible for the NSA to access such information from foreign data servers.
While strictly compliant with US law, it is against the spirit of the law.
Documents which were leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden to the Washington Post newspaper appear to show a covert operation by the NSA to tap into the connections between data centres and mine the data indirectly.
The NSA already has the legal powers to request information from the companies on a per-case basis, but this appears to have been a much wider operation to listen in on all communications.
According to the leaked documents, the project -- codenamed Muscular -- sifted through the data and discarded anything not likely to be of use later, but then retained the rest.
Google's chief legal officer, David Drummond said in a statement "We have long been concerned about the possibility of this kind of snooping, which is why we have continued to extend encryption across more and more Google services and links,"
Yahoo said it had "strict controls in place to protect the security of our data centres, and we have not given access to our data centres to the NSA or to any other government agency".
The latest revelations come on top of controversy that the US spied on European political leaders and had tapped into their phone lines in the past.