The Guardian reported that Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) collaborated closely with the National Security Agency (NSA) in intercepting users’ communications and to avoid its encryption. In response, the software giant clarified that it only provided customer data in response to legal processes.
In its statement, Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) emphasized that it has clear principles that serve as a guide in dealing with government demands for customer information for law enforcement and national security issues. The software giant pointed out that it is seriously committed to its customers and in compliance with applicable law. “We provide customer data only in response to legal processes,” said the company.
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In addition, Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) explained that its compliance team carefully evaluated all government demands, and reject any demand they find invalid. The company stated that it only complies to requests regarding specific accounts or identifiers, and it does not respond to any kind of blanket orders, as reported by the media.
Microsoft and Other Techs Plea For More Transparency
Furthermore, Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) stated, “We maintain the ability to provide information in response to a law enforcement or national security request,” in circumstances when the company needs to upgrade or update its products legal obligations. The company emphasized, “There are aspects of this debate that we wish we were able to discuss more freely. That’s why we’ve argued for additional transparency that would help everyone understand and debate these important issues.”
The Guardian and The Washington Post provided detailed information regarding the cooperation between technology companies in Silicon Valley and the intelligence community over the past three years based on the files provided by Edward Snowden, the fugitive NSA leaker. The documents also provided clarity regarding the PRISM program.
Microsoft Assists NSA and FBI To Track Leads, Not Spy on All Citizens
Based on the documents, Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) assisted the NSA to avoid its own encryption in order to be able to intercept web chats on the company’s new Outloo.com portal. The NSA already gained a pre-stage encryption access to emails on Outlook.com and Hotmail.
A newsletter on December 26, 2012 reads, “MS [Microsoft], working with the FBI, developed a surveillance capability to deal” with the issue. “These solutions were successfully tested and went live 12 Dec 2012.”
This year, Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) also cooperated with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in allowing the NSA to easily access its cloud storage service SkyDrive through the PRISM program. SkyDrive has more than 250 million users worldwide. The company also worked with the FBI Data Intercept Unit to understand potential issues with a feature in Outlook.com that allows users to create email aliases.
One of the NSA documents indicated that information collected through PRISM was routinely shared with the FBI and CIA. Last year, the NSA stated that a new capability tripled the amount of data collected from Sky Video calls through PRISM.
According to the report, the files also showed tensions between technology companies and the Obama Administration. Major tech companies are asking the government to allow them to reveal more information regarding the nature and extent of their cooperation with the NSA in order to resolve their concerns regarding the privacy of customers.
Published Accounts of Open Government Access Were False
The Guardian reported in June that the NSA claimed that it has direct access to the systems of the majority of internet companies including Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG), Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB), and Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO).
In response, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) said it has no knowledge about the PRISM program, and negated any back door for the government to access private user data. Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) said it did not provide any government organization with direct access to its servers while Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) said it only provided information on specific accounts and identifiers in compliance with legally binding orders or subpoena.