Based on NSA slides, the agency may have been Google’s biggest (unintentional) third-party developer in 2012. Google has started to encrypt its traffic between its data centers, effectively halting the broad surveillance of its inner workings by the joint National Security Agency-GCHQ program known as MUSCULAR.

The move turns off a giant source of information to the two agencies, which at one point accounted for nearly a third of the NSA’s daily data intake for its primary intelligence analysis database—at least for now. Yesterday, the Washington Post shared additional slides produced by the NSA on the MUSCULAR program, which tapped into the fiber-optic networks carrying traffic to and from Google’s and Yahoo’s overseas data centers.

The slides indicated that data from the networks frequently reached the daily intelligence briefing provided to President Barack Obama.

They cited the joint operation with GHCQ as the fifteenth-largest source of intelligence data for those briefings.

The slides also revealed that the NSA obtained an intimate understanding of the internal operations of these networks, which suggests it either launched a significant reverse-engineering operation to pry apart Google’s and Yahoo’s secrets or it obtained this information from people who worked for the two companies (maybe even some combination of the two). Either way, the effort amounts to a major intelligence operation to discover the trade secrets of two major American companies. 1     

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