Was Level 3 The Weak Link That Gave The Feds A Way To Hack Into Google's Network?

from the no-comment dept

The NY Times has an interesting and informative story building on yesterday's bombshell about the NSA and GCHQ infiltrating Google and Yahoo's network links between datacenters. Much of the NYT report covers the same ground as the original Washington Post article, but adds a few key details. The key part? That the network cables that connect the various Google datacenters are apparently provided by telco infrastructure giant Level 3 -- and when asked about it, Level 3 seemed to hint strongly that the government may have gotten access via it, but that it was legally gagged from talking about it:
In a statement, Level 3 said: “We comply with the laws in each country where we operate. In general, governments that seek assistance in law enforcement or security investigations prohibit disclosure of the assistance provided.”
That's not a definite confirmation, but you can see how it would raise eyebrows. As the NYT report notes, in an earlier story, concerning claims that Level 3 had helped the intelligence community spy on Germans, the company had denied the report. The fact that it's not denying it here, but rather pointing out that if it had helped there would be a gag order, certainly suggests the potential way in for the NSA. If so, Google might want to look rather closely at its agreement with Level 3.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 31st, 2013 @ 10:39am

    Gag orders issued in America don't apply on foreign soul. It's out of the courts jurisdiction.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
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    out_of_the_blue, Oct 31st, 2013 @ 10:47am

    NO. Near certain was Brin, Schmidt, and what's-his-name.

    All of them got billions making them now definitely corrupt, and I doubt started with too much of conscience to soothe, either.

    This is just yet more of attempt to divert scandal away from the big co-conspirator corporations.

    Edward Snowden: Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo, Apple, and the rest of our internet titans must ask themselves why they aren't fighting for our interests the same way -- Ed, those soul-less amoral entities care only about the billions they get BEING snoops!

    06:45:28[h-026-1]

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 31st, 2013 @ 11:16am

    Too bad these companies can't sue the government for felony interference with a business model. Maybe they can take pionters from Hollywood

     

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  4.  
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    TasMot (profile), Oct 31st, 2013 @ 11:25am

    They can't complain about their service from Level 3. Remember, they get free Internet access (at least according to the **AA groups.

     

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  5. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
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    out_of_the_blue (profile), Oct 31st, 2013 @ 11:48am

    Re: NO. Near certain was Brin, Schmidt, and what's-his-name.

    My god, the Big G still frightens me. It's a mystery as to why a corporation that wants to data-mine my information merely to sell ads is far more frightening than government agencies who could use that same information to arrest me. Yes, the G is bad, but they're not going to arrest me. The NSA, whom I only attack when Mike somehow fails to (don't ask me what standard I'm using, Mike fails in my book just because...well...he's MEGAPHONE MIKE!)

    07:21:19[4e 4f 54 48 49 4e 47 20 49 20 53 41 59 20 49 53 20 4f 46 20 41 4e 59 20 53 55 42 53 54 41 4e 43 45 20 57 48 41 54 53 4f 45 56 45 52]

     

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  6.  
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    Bengie, Oct 31st, 2013 @ 11:57am

    Re:

    The NSA has shown they can make up any laws and dish out any punishment they want. If you don't listen to the NSA, you best not live or work in the USA.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
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    Gwiz (profile), Oct 31st, 2013 @ 12:04pm

    Re: Re: NO. Near certain was Brin, Schmidt, and what's-his-name.

    [4e 4f 54 48 49 4e 47 20 49 20 53 41 59 20 49 53 20 4f 46 20 41 4e 59 20 53 55 42 53 54 41 4e 43 45 20 57 48 41 54 53 4f 45 56 45 52]

    That's really funny (and true)!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
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    elemecca (profile), Oct 31st, 2013 @ 12:28pm

    Re: Gag Orders

    But American citizens and entities are bound by them anywhere in the world. A fully independent part of Level 3 operating from a foreign country bound to its American parent only by contract obligations would be (mostly) immune from American court orders. Anything that's legally part of the American company is within the jurisdiction of the American court system regardless of where in the world they operate.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 31st, 2013 @ 12:37pm

    Re: Re:

    If you don't listen to the NSA, you best not live or work in the USA.

    Or anywhere with an extradition treaty with the US, or within reach of their military.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
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    andrew_duane (profile), Oct 31st, 2013 @ 12:49pm

    Non-Denial Acknowledgement

    It seems to me that the gag orders are self-defeating.

    If you didn't get asked for help: "No, we did not get a government request"
    If you *did* get asked for help: "We can neither confirm nor deny that we got a government request"

    You didn't confirm or deny it or talk about it, but you said yes anyway.

    Simple.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
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    GeneralEmergency (profile), Oct 31st, 2013 @ 12:59pm

    If I was negotiating a contract with a large network carrier...

    .

    If I was negotiating a contract with a large network carrier, I would specify as part of the contract that the carrier had to send a daily email to my security officer attesting to the fact that NO tap, pen register, or National Security Letter orders had been served upon their premises that would surveil my network traffic.

    When the emails stop coming, I know I have a problem.

    .

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 31st, 2013 @ 1:11pm

    Re: Re: Re: NO. Near certain was Brin, Schmidt, and what's-his-name.

    Probably the most interesting and substantial thing ever from OOTB. I find most of what he says unreadable.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
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    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Oct 31st, 2013 @ 1:50pm

    Re: Non-Denial Acknowledgement

    You didn't confirm or deny it or talk about it, but you said yes anyway.
    Of course you did:
    Max: "No comment" means "yes."
    William: No it doesn't.
    Max: Do you ever masturbate?
    William: DEFINITELY no comment.
    Max: You see? It means "yes."

    - Notting Hill

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 31st, 2013 @ 2:24pm

    If so, Google might want to look rather closely at its agreement with Level 3.

    So which alternate provider might be immune from the duty to cooperate in criminal/national security matters? When it comes to giant telcos isn't really a choice between Coke and Pepsi?

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 31st, 2013 @ 2:40pm

    Re: If I was negotiating a contract with a large network carrier...

    So if National Security letters come with a non-disclosure order from the court- then what?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 31st, 2013 @ 7:06pm

    In 3 .. 2 .. 1
    Breaking News - Level 3 receives retroactive immunity for wire tapping.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
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    Ninja (profile), Nov 1st, 2013 @ 2:33am

    I'll take it as a "yes, we were forced to comply and received a gag order". We now know the physical structure is under fire and compromised. The question is: is there a way to prevent snooping even if they have physical access? Shall we start routing around the US?

     

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  18.  
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    Clownius, Nov 1st, 2013 @ 7:20am

    Encryption

    Seems to me encryption is a must. Yeah they may be able to break it but at extreme costs. Make them pay for every bit of data.

    As for not routing via the USA its an interesting theory but you need to add al 5 eyes nations at least. Its not terribly practical in the end because im sure the NSA would have no problem tapping other locations around the world...

    I bet they already do.

     

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  19.  
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    toyotabedzrock (profile), Nov 3rd, 2013 @ 2:00pm

    TPP

    The only thing between L3 and a massive lawsuit is if TPP passes.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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