The head of the National Security Agency on Wednesday denied a report that the spy agency has directly intercepted communications passing through Yahoo and Google data centers.
“That’s never happened,” Gen. Keith Alexander told Bloomberg News during a conference it held in Washington. Calling the report “factually incorrect,” Alexander said the NSA can only tap company data centers with a court order. The NSA, he said, does “not have access to Google servers, Yahoo servers.”
Citing documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and interviews with unnamed officials, the Washington Post reported Wednesday that the NSA “has secretly broken into the main communications links that connect Yahoo and Google data centers around the world.” The latest report comes on top of months of incendiary revelations about the NSA’s vast surveillance activities both in the United States and abroad, which have led to calls for reform and greater oversight, including from some of the agency’s staunchest defenders.
“This is not the NSA breaking into any databases. It would be illegal for us to do that,” Alexander said. “And so I don’t know what the report is, but I can tell you factually we do not have access to Google servers, Yahoo servers. We go through a court order. We issue that court order to them through the FBI. And it’s not millions. It’s thousands of those that are done, and it’s almost all against terrorism and other things like that. It has nothing to do with U.S. persons.”