The NSA's spying game has broadened to include the SeaMeWe-4 submarine cable system, according to a report in German magazine Der Spiegel citing a classified document.
Jointly owned by a consortium of service providers including France's Orange (NYSE: ORAN), Telecom Italia Sparkle, and Tata (NYSE: TCL), the SeaMeWe-4 cable links Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.
The document claims that the NSA's cyber-warfare intelligence-gathering unit TAO (Tailored Access Operations) collected network management information on the cable system on Feb. 13, 2013.
By using a "website masquerade operation," the NSA was able to "gain access to the consortium's management website and collected Layer 2 network information that shows the circuit mapping for significant portions of the network."
It appears that SeaMeWe-4 is part of a broader spying effort by the NSA. The document added that "more operations are planned in the future to collect more information about this and other cable systems."
After the report emerged, Orange told French newspaper Les Echos that it is preparing a civil suit against the NSA. Citing various unnamed sources, France's incumbent telco plans to work with the International Federation for Human Rights and the Human Rights League.
In addition to Orange and the two organizations, the French magistrate has begun an investigation.
Special report: Submarine cable operators hunt for new routes to counter congestion, political turmoil
Verizon Business forced to give call records to the NSA
NSA denies it will eavesdrop on U.S. citizens' e-mails; Nuro offers 2 Gbps in Tokyo
Verizon FiOS additions drove up consumer revenue 4.3% to $3.6 billion