US reportedly uses security agreements to intercept data from undersea fiber optic lines

The US government has clear incentives to safeguard against internet attacks coming through undersea fiber optic lines, but the Washington Post now hears that they're stretching the law to make this happen. The newspaper claims that federal agencies push foreign fiber operators into Network Security Agreements that, while public, are used for eavesdropping that isn't covered under their terms. In the case of an old deal with Global Crossing, the telecom firm had to allow short-notice government visits and even keep top executives in the dark. The FCC reportedly serves as the bargaining chip, delaying cable licenses until providers agree to the terms. Government officials maintain that their surveillance is legal, although that's cold comfort -- the New York Times and Wall Street Journal both allege that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has reinterpreted laws to let the NSA collect more information than it would otherwise.

[Image credit: JL Hopgood, Flickr]