NSA gets MUSCULAR, intercepts data from Google and Yahoo

An actual slide from an NSA presentation on "Google Cloud Exploitation." Yes, that is a smiley face.

new report from The Washington Post says that the National Security Agency has been secretly copying massive amounts of information. While that sounds like old news, it's not. This program, called MUSCULAR, has reportedly been tapping into the fiber optic cables that connect data centers at Yahoo and Google -- without either company knowing about it.

Independent security researcher Ashkahn Soltani co-wrote the story, and tells Marketplace Tech host Ben Johnson about these new revelations. He says the program is significant because the agency may have been dodging legal oversight. It's also an international story, because the company you use for email or other online activities doesn't just store your information in the U.S. Copies of your data are stored all over the world, for backup. In other words, an email sent from someone in New York to a friend in Topeka might get copied and sent through someplace like Helsinki. 

While it might be unlikely that the NSA has been digging up cables on the bottom of the Atlantic, it may have tapped into some of the big spots where those cables come onto land -- right under the nose of the utility companies that maintain them.

About the author

Ben Johnson is the host of Marketplace Tech.

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