The NSA’s online spying program made news again this week when German publication Der Spiegel published a report saying that the department’s Office of Tailored Access Operations (TAO) has been the most successful branch of the group, exploiting popular websites like Facebook and Yahoo to spy on users.
The Spiegel report says that the group exploits weaknesses in the IT industry to carry out espionage, counterterrorism and even cyber-attacks. The report also mentions an advanced tool that the TAO division uses called “QUANTUM THEORY.” Here is an excerpt from the Spiegel report:
“A comprehensive internal presentation titled ‘QUANTUM CAPABILITIES,’ which Spiegel has viewed, lists virtually every popular Internet service provider as a target, including Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter and YouTube. ‘NSA QUANTUM has the greatest success against Yahoo, Facebook and static IP addresses,’ it states.”
Facebook and other tech companies have pushed the government to allow them to release information about the data they’ve handed over to the NSA, though the government has thus far blocked their requests. Facebook has argued that the public perception of the site forking over user data to the government is hurting their business, though others have argued that Facebook and other tech companies are trying to make themselves look better by turning the tables on the government. Right when this controversy seems to be cooling off, a new revelation re-lights it all over again.