Google’s Schmidt blasts NSA over fiber-optic snooping

Google, a company that’s taken some lumps itself for treading heavily on users’ privacy, is not at all amused by reports that the National Security Agency  tapped fiber-optic cables running between its data centers. Google(s goog) Chairman Eric Schmidt registered that disapproval to CNN and other news outlets early Monday.

“I was shocked that the NSA would do this — perhaps a violation of law but certainly a violation of mission … This is clearly an overstep,” Schmidt told CNN.

Schmidt was responding to recent revelations from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden that the NSA was not only harvesting some customer data from big U.S. internet companies with their knowledge but also collecting data flowing in the fiber optic cables between them unbeknownst to them. Those allegations that the NSA tapped both Google and Yahoo cable links were first reported in the Washington Post, which cited Snowden-supplied documents. The documents said the NSA collected hundreds of millions of records over a month and held it for 3 to 5 days while deciding what to keep.

The NSA told the Post in a statement that it focuses on “discovering developing intelligence about valid foreign intelligence targets only.”

Whatever, Schmidt is not happy.  He told CNN: “From a Google perspective, any internal use of Google services is unauthorized and almost certainly illegal.”