If you thought PRISM was bad, wait until you get a load of MUSCULAR. Documents from Edward Snowden reveal that the NSA has hacked the cables Google and Yahoo use to shuttle information between their massive cloud databases, giving them unfettered access to data from hundreds of millions of users, all without the slightest oversight from even the FISA court, the Washington Post reports. A top-secret document dated Jan. 9, 2013, reveals that in the previous 30 days alone, the NSA had collected 181,280,466 new records—and that includes not just metadata, but text, audio, and video as well.
Technically, this is all legal because Google and Yahoo have data centers around the world, and anything beyond US borders is fair game for the NSA. But US data flows freely through and is duplicated throughout this system, meaning MUSCULAR has been able to collect data on US citizens and residents on what the Post calls "a previously unknown scale." And whereas PRISM took data from the "front door," compelling Google and Yahoo to hand over data, MUSCULAR is being done without their knowledge, bypassing top-flight security measures. The Post says two Google engineers "exploded in profanity" when they saw the documents. "I hope you publish this," one said. Click for the full story. (Read more NSA stories.)