NSA spied on networks of Google and other companies -- report

Along with the search giant, Brazil's state-run oil firm Petrobras was targeted by the NSA, according to documents obtained by Brazilian TV network Globo.

CNET

The National Security Agency allegedly has snooped through the networks of Google, a Brazilian oil company, and an international bank cooperative.

US documents obtained by Brazilian TV network Globo reportedly detail the spying and instruct NSA agents on how to tap into private computer networks, Reuters said Monday. Globo aired the findings on Sunday night.

The targets cited in the report all hold prominent international roles. Google is the dominant search engine in many countries. Petrobras is one of the world's largest oil producers. And as an international bank cooperative, the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) conducts a huge number of financial deals.

Slides leaked from an NSA presentation were dated May 2012, but otherwise the report didn't reveal exactly when the spying occurred or what data may have been found, Reuters added. Globo said that it worked with Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald to expose this latest information. Greenwald helped disclose the recent revelations about the NSA based on documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Greenwald told Globo that the material provided by Snowden contains "much more information on spying on innocents, against people who have nothing to do with terrorism, or on industrial issues, which need to be made public."

The spying on foreign companies such as Petrobras and SWIFT have opened up allegations of economic espionage. In response, James Clapper, director of US National Intelligence, issued this statement on Sunday:

It is not a secret that the Intelligence Community collects information about economic and financial matters, and terrorist financing.

We collect this information for many important reasons: for one, it could provide the United States and our allies early warning of international financial crises which could negatively impact the global economy. It also could provide insight into other countries' economic policy or behavior which could affect global markets.

Our collection of information regarding terrorist financing saves lives. Since 9/11, the Intelligence Community has found success in disrupting terror networks by following their money as it moves around the globe. International criminal organizations, proliferators of weapons of mass destruction, illicit arms dealers, or nations that attempt to avoid international sanctions can also be targeted in an effort to aid America's and our allies' interests.

What we do not do, as we have said many times, is use our foreign intelligence capabilities to steal the trade secrets of foreign companies on behalf of -- or give intelligence we collect to -- US companies to enhance their international competitiveness or increase their bottom line.

As we have said previously, the United States collects foreign intelligence -- just as many other governments do -- to enhance the security of our citizens and protect our interests and those of our allies around the world. The Intelligence Community's efforts to understand economic systems and policies and monitor anomalous economic activities is critical to providing policy makers with the information they need to make informed decisions that are in the best interest of our national security.

About the author

Journalist, software trainer, and Web developer Lance Whitney writes columns and reviews for CNET, Computer Shopper, Microsoft TechNet, and other technology sites. His first book, "Windows 8 Five Minutes at a Time," was published by Wiley & Sons in November 2012.

 

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