London, Jan 31 (IANS) A piece of legislation that permits US agencies to snoop on foreign nationals by hacking into cloud servers of Google and Apple, has sent alarm bells ringing among privacy campaigners, a British media report says.
The renewal of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), would grant the US government the right to spy on anyone using the internet storage facilities provided by Google and Apple.
One of the most disquieting provisions of the FISA justifies snooping even without the fig leaf of a threat to national security. Officials could pry into foreign individuals' cloud data for purely political reasons as well.
Simply stated, it means that any non-US citizen who stores data on the cloud services operated by Amazon, Google and Apple, could open themselves up to a probe by US authorities, the Daily Mail reports.
Google, responding to media requests, said: "It is possible for the US government (and European governments) to access certain types of data via their law enforcement agencies. We think this kind of access to data merits serious discussion and more transparency."
Cloud computing allows internet users to store their information and data in an network server as opposed to a physical memory stick or tangible location on their hard drive or on their smartphones.
FISA was actually put into place under President George W. Bush in 2008, and it was quietly renewed in December 2012 under President Barack Obama's purview.
The legislation permits organs of the US government, the CIA, the FBI, and Pentagon's National Security Agency to look at any information they would like that is saved on cloud servers.
The blogsite Slate quoted Caspar Bowden, who co-wrote the report which is now being examined by the European Union, as saying that the legislation has been so gravely ignored by European government officials.
"It's like putting a mind control drug in the water supply, which only affects non-Americans," he said.