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NSA collecting Gmail and Yahoo Mail messages and files

Tom Jackson • Oct 30, 2013 at 4:24 PM

The NSA, which still has a few rules that ban it from collecting every email message in America, has figured out how to evade the rules by collecting the messages overseas.

This means that government officials very likely can collect your domestic messages, because Google and Yahoo back up their data and email messages on servers across four continents, according to this Washington Post story,

The Post story says that Google and Yahoo pay big bucks to transfer the data on supposedly private cables and that Google makes a considerable effort to encrypt their customers' data. Oh, well:

They had reason to think, insiders said, that their private, internal networks were safe from prying eyes.


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 resides. In hand-printed letters, the drawing notes that encryption is “added and removed here!” The artist adds a smiley face, a cheeky celebration of victory over Google security.


Two engineers with close ties to Google exploded in profanity when they saw the drawing. “I hope you publish this,” one of them said.

I've been suffering from "NSA fatigue" the last few weeks, but this is interesting.

The Post story is written by Barton Gellman; his interview on NPR's "Fresh Air" is here.

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