Google '€˜outraged' over reports NSA accessed data centers

Spy agency reportedly secretly intercepted user data from Internet giants' data links around the world

Google's headquarters in Mountain View, California, on April 16, 2013.
David Paul Morris/Bloomberg/Getty Images

The National Security Agency secretly intercepted data links that connect Yahoo and Google information centers around the world, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.

The Post, citing documents obtained through NSA-leaker Edward Snowden, reported that the NSA -- in partnership with a British intelligence agency known as Government Communications Headquarters -- sends millions of records from Yahoo and Google every day to data warehouses at the agency’s headquarters in Fort Meade, Md.

According to the Post, the information intercepted includes “metadata” with information on emails sent and received, as well as content such as text, audio and video.

Google’s chief legal officer David Drummond reportedly expressed “outrage” 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, especially the links in the slide," he said.

"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."

According to the Guardian, Yahoo said: "We have strict controls in place to protect the security of our data centers, and we have not given access to our data centers to the NSA or to any other government agency."

The Post reported that NSA intercepted data through fiber optic cables that connect the tech companies’ data centers around the world.

The NSA responded to the Post in a statement, saying it is “focused on discovering and developing intelligence about valid foreign intelligence targets only.”

“(The) 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,” the statement read.

The Obama administration has faced fury both at home and internationally over the spying program, which Snowden has been leaking information on since June.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's top foreign affairs and intelligence advisers quizzed officials in Washington, Wednesday, over U.S. intelligence-gathering activities in Germany -- including allegations that the National Security Agency tapped the phone of the German chancellor.

Merkel wants the United States to agree a "no spying" deal with Berlin and Paris by the end of the year, and to stop alleged espionage against two of Washington's closest EU allies.

President Barack Obama has said that he would have stopped any spy program against Merkel if he had known about it.

And on Saturday, thousands marched in Washington to call for an end to the government's mass online surveillance programs.

Al Jazeera and wire services

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