Security Advisor

NSA Allegedly Infiltrated Overseas Google and Yahoo Datacenters

According to documents that were released on Wednesday, both the National Security Agency (NSA) and the British Government Communications Headquarters tapped overseas datacenters used by both Yahoo and Google.

The leaked documents, provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and reported by The Washington Post, allege that the two agencies gained access to the two Internet companies' main communications links and collected e-mail and other metadata from users.

According to the report, alleged internal documents dated Jan. 9, 2013 disclosed that the NSA sends millions of records on a daily basis from the tapped datacenters to data warehouses located at Fort Meade, Md. in a project code-named MUSCULAR. While the information, which were also disclosed in leaked presentation slides, point to the datacenter targeted being outside the U.S., the exact location of it was not given.

Shortly after The Washington Post report, the NSA released a statement saying the allegations were untrue. "The assertion that we collect vast quantities of U.S. persons' data from this type of collection is also not true. NSA applies Attorney General-approved processes to protect the privacy of U.S. persons -- minimizing the likelihood of their information in our targeting, collection, processing, exploitation, retention, and dissemination," read a released statement. "NSA is a foreign intelligence agency. And we're focused on discovering and developing intelligence about valid foreign intelligence targets only."

In response to the allegations, both Yahoo and Google said they had no prior knowledge of this activity and will investigate the matter.  

"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, especially the links in the slide," said Google in a released statement on the recent leak. "We do not provide any government, including the U.S. government, with access to our systems. 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."

While both Google and Yahoo had been previously been linked to the NSA surveillance program PRISM, in which the NSA allegedly gained access to domestic servers of major U.S. Internet companies, this week's disclosure is the first that potentially exposes how the NSA (in conjunction with the British counterpart agency) collects data overseas.


About the Author

Chris Paoli is the site producer for and


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