According to documents released by Edward Snowden, the NSA has infiltrated data centers belonging to Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO). The documents show that the security agency has the ability to collect data from the internal networks run by the Internet companies.

NSA

The infiltration gives the NSA access to hundreds of millions of user accounts and allows them to collect and store a huge amount of data from those accounts. The news was reported by The Washington Post earlier today. The piece says that the NSA does not just collect meta-data from the sources; it also obtains content in the form of pictures, video and text.

NSA Google spying

The NSA uses a tool it calls MUSCULAR in order to copy data from fiber optic cables traveling between data centers. It uses the links between Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) data centers and the rest of the Internet in order to take data from the accounts of those using the services.

This is not part of the NSA PRISM program. Under that program, the NSA submits requests to Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) and other internet companies for data directly. The companies involved were restricted from talking about their involvement in the PRISM program. The MUSCULAR program appears to operate along different lines.

If the documents from Edward Snowden are accurate, Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) has not given its permission to have its data recorded by the NSA. The company may not have even known about the MUSCULAR program at all. In a statement quoted by The Washington Post, Google said “it was troubled by allegations of the government intercepting traffic between our data centers, and we are not aware of this activity.”

Snowden NSA documents

This piece of information is just one of many that have been released by exiled whistleblower Edward Snowden in recent months. The National Security Agency and other members of the intelligence community have argued that programs like PRISM are necessary for the protection of the American people.

The NSA MUSCULAR program is, quite possibly, the most damning insight from Snowden’s documents. It is clear that he did not release the most impressive information the first time around. If statements from those close to him are to be believed, there are more documents to come.