We have long suggested that Google’s war on privacy and mass collection of user data offers the National Security Agency “one stop shopping”. We were on the money: The NSA has been taking advantage of Google’s data-mining, co-opting it for their own purposes:
The National Security Agency has secretly broken into the main communications links that connect Yahoo and Google data centers around the world, according to documents obtained from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and interviews with knowledgeable officials.
By tapping those links, the agency has positioned itself to collect at will from among hundreds of millions of user accounts, many of them belonging to Americans. The NSA does not keep everything it collects, but it keeps a lot.
According to a top secret accounting dated Jan. 9, 2013, NSA’s acquisitions directorate sends millions of records every day from Yahoo and Google internal networks to data warehouses at the agency’s Fort Meade headquarters. In the preceding 30 days, the report said, field collectors had processed and sent back 181,280,466 new records — ranging from “metadata,” which would indicate who sent or received e-mails and when, to content such as text, audio and video.
This is hardly shocking news to us – again, it validates what we have said for years – but it causing a big stir, particularly in the tech blogosphere. It will be interesting to see how Google apologists respond to this one. Google itself claims it is not complicit:
We’re troubled by allegations of the government intercepting traffic between our data centers, and we are not aware of this activity. However, we have long been concerned about the possibility of this kind of snooping, which is why we continue to extend encryption across more and more Google services and links.
Increased encryption is not a bad thing, but the fact remains that Google remains a juicy target for governments because of the vast amount of data is collecting and storing (permanently). We urge everyone who values their privacy to immediately begin taking steps to cut ties with Google. It is possible to leave Google behind and switch to providers that have better privacy policies and a healthy respect for users’ privacy. Our list of Google alternatives is long, and we urge people to make full use of it.