Google outraged over possible NSA snooping

By Kirstin Buick
31 October 2013

The internet giant Google expressed anger late Wednesday over the possibility that the US National Security Agency had broken into the links that connect its data centres.

"We are outraged at the lengths to which the government seems to have gone to intercept data from our private fiber networks, and it underscores the need for urgent reform," said David Drummond, chief legal officer.

According to the Washington Post newspaper, NSA cracked into both Yahoo and Google's data centres, giving it access to the accounts of hundreds of millions of users.

Drummond said Google has long been concerned about the possibility of such snooping, "which is why we have continued to extend encryption across more and more Google services and links, especially the links in the slide."

Drummond insisted that Google does not provide any government access to its systems.

The Post cited documents provided by Edward Snowden, who has leaked documents from his time as an NSA contractor to the media in recent months. It reported that millions of records were intercepted and sent from Yahoo and Google's networks to the NSA's headquarters.

Snowden, who has been charged with espionage by the US, has been granted refuge in Russia with the understanding that he not distribute any more leaks.

But a continuing stream of new revelations have provoked worldwide uproar, particularly in Germany, where it is alleged the United States spied on Chancellor Angela Merkel's mobile phone.

Germany sent its two top security officials - German National Security Advisor Christoph Heusgen and Guenter Heiss, Germany's secret service coordinator - to meet Wednesday at the White House with their US counterparts.

The talks were the first high level face-to-face meetings between the allies since the allegations of spying on Merkel and other world leaders were published earlier this month.

The programme described by the Post was known as MUSCULAR and is separate from a previously disclosed surveillance programme known as PRISM that first prompted outrage about the NSA's activities earlier this year.

NSA chief Keith Alexander denied the agency had access to the companies' servers, and said it had only accessed thousands, not millions, of internet records, and all of those legally.

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