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In recent years, both of them are said to have boughtor leased thousands of miles of fiber-optic cables for their own exclusive use.They had reason to think, insiders said, that their private, internal networks were safe from prying eyes.Tapping the Google and Yahoo clouds allows the NSA to intercept communications in real time and to take “a retrospective look at target activity,” according to one internal NSA document.To obtain free access to data- center traffic, the NSA had to circumvent gold-standard security measures.In an NSA presentation slide on “Google Cloud Exploitation,” however, a sketch shows where the “Public Internet” meets the internal “Google Cloud” where their data reside.In hand-printed letters, the drawing notes that encryption is “added and removed here!“Look, NSA has platoons of lawyers, and their entire job is figuring out how to stay within the law and maximize collection by exploiting every loophole,” he said.“It’s fair to say the rules are less restrictive under Executive Order 12333 than they are under FISA,” the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

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The NSA does not keep everything it collects, but it keeps a lot. 9, 2013, the NSA’s acquisitions directorate sends millions of records every day from internal Yahoo and Google networks to data warehouses at the agency’s headquarters at Fort Meade, Md.

In the preceding 30 days, the report said, field collectors had processed and sent back 181,280,466 new records — including “metadata,” which would indicate who sent or received e-mails and when, as well as content such as text, audio and video.

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.

The MUSCULAR project appears to be an unusually aggressive use of NSA tradecraft against flagship American companies. In a statement, the NSA said it is “focused on discovering and developing intelligence about valid foreign intelligence targets only.” “NSA applies Attorney General-approved processes to protect the privacy of U. persons — minimizing the likelihood of their information in our targeting, collection, processing, exploitation, retention, and dissemination,” it said.

From the buffer, custom-built NSA tools unpack and decode the special data formats that the two companies use inside their clouds.

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