Intelligence agencies of the US and the UK secretly infiltrated into the communication links of popular email providers like Yahoo and Google to get access to its millions of emails, a media report said today.
The National Security Agency in collaboration with its British counterpart GCHQ has secretly exploited the data links to collect the data of hundreds of millions of user accounts.
"By tapping those links, the agency has positioned itself to collect at will from hundreds of millions of user accounts, many of them belonging to Americans," The Washington Post said in an exclusive report, adding that the NSA does not keep everything it collects, but it keeps a lot.
The report, however, has been denied by the NSA, whose chief General Keith Alexander said that such an activity to his knowledge has never happened. Both Google and Yahoo expressed concern over this.
The Washington Post said its report is based on the classified documents leaked by Edward Snowden, the CIA whistleblower, and interviews with US Government officials.
"According to a top-secret accounting dated Jan 9, 2013, the NSA's acquisitions directorate sends millions of records every day from internal Yahoo and Google networks to data warehouses at the agency's headquarters at Fort Meade, Maryland," it said.
"In the preceding 30 days, the report said, field collectors had processed and sent back 181,280,466 new records including metadata, which would indicate who sent or received e-mails and when, as well as content such as text, audio and video," the daily reported.
The Washington Post reported that the NSA's principal tool to exploit the data links is a project called MUSCULAR, operated jointly with the agency's British counterpart, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ).
From undisclosed interception points, the NSA and the GCHQ are copying entire data flows across fiber-optic cables that carry information among the data centers of the Silicon Valley giants, the report said.