The U.S. National Security Agency has penetrated the main communication links that connect Yahoo and Google data centers around the world, giving it access to the accounts of hundreds of millions of people including U.S. residents, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.
By tapping the links, the agency is able to collect at will a wide range of content such as metadata — indicating the recipients of emails and when the messages were sent — as well as actual content like text, audio and video, according to the report.
The NSA does not store all of the content permanently, but it keeps a lot, the newspaper reported, based on documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden as well as interviews with what the Post called “knowledgeable” officials.
Through the program, millions of records are sent every day from Yahoo and Google’s internal networks to data warehouses at the NSA’s headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland, the report said. In the past 30 days alone, more than 181 million records containing various data had been processed by field collectors, according to the report.