Vodafone gave the most comprehensive look to date on how governments monitor their citizens’ communication.

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outwitting nsa Google released a user-friendly, e-mail encryption method to replace the schemes the NSA exploited. It included a jab at the NSA’s smiley-face slide, including in the code: “ssl-added-and-removed-here-; - )”

Associated Press,


Countries that requested thousands of records over 12 months through March 31


Countries where authorities require immediate access to an operator’s network without needing warrants.

Internet giants erect barriers to spy agencies

  • New York Times
  • June 6, 2014 - 11:11 PM

– Just down the road from Google’s main campus here, engineers for the company are accelerating what has become the newest arms race in modern technology: They are making it far more difficult — and far more expensive — for the National Security Agency and the intelligence arms of other governments around the world to pierce their systems.

As fast as it can, Google is sealing up cracks in its systems that Edward Snowden revealed the NSA had brilliantly exploited. It is encrypting more data as it moves among its servers and helping customers encode their own e-mails. Facebook, Microsoft and Yahoo are taking similar steps.

After years of cooperating with the government, the immediate goal is to thwart Washington — as well as Beijing and Moscow. The strategy is also intended to preserve business overseas in such places as Brazil and Germany that have threatened to entrust data only to local providers.

Era of cooperation is over

Google, for example, is laying its own fiber optic cable under the world’s oceans, a project that began as an effort to cut costs and extend its influence but now has an added purpose: to assure that the company will have more control over the movement of its customers’ data.

A year after Snowden’s revelations, the era of quiet cooperation is over. Telecommunications companies say they are denying requests to volunteer data not covered by existing law. AT&T, Verizon and others say that compared with a year ago, they are far more reluctant to cooperate with the U.S. government in “gray areas” where there is no explicit requirement for a legal warrant.

But governments are fighting back, harder than ever. Cellphone giant Vodafone reported Friday that a “small number” of governments around the world had demanded the ability to tap directly into its communication networks, a level of surveillance that elicited outrage from privacy advocates.

Vodafone refused to name the nations for fear of putting its business and employees at risk there. But in an accounting of the number of legal demands for information that it receives, it noted that some countries did not issue warrants to obtain phone, e-mail or Web-searching traffic because “the relevant agencies and authorities already have permanent access to customer communications via their own direct link.”

‘Totally off the table’

The company also said it had to acquiesce to some governments’ in order to comply with national laws. Otherwise, it said, it faced losing its license to operate in certain countries.

Eric Grosse, Google’s security chief, suggested in an interview that the NSA’s own behavior invited the new arms race.

“I am willing to help on the purely defensive side of things,” he said, referring to cybersecurity efforts. “But signals intercept is totally off the table,” he said, referring to national intelligence gathering. “No hard feelings, but my job is to make their job hard.”

In Washington, officials acknowledge that covert programs are now far harder to execute because U.S. technology companies, fearful of losing international business, are hardening their networks.

Robert Litt, the general counsel of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees all 17 U.S. spy agencies, said Wednesday that it was “an unquestionable loss for our nation that companies are losing the willingness to cooperate legally and voluntarily” with U.S. spy agencies. “Just as there are technological gaps, there are legal gaps,” he said, “that leave a lot of gray area” governing what companies could turn over.


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