Microsoft responds to user concerns about what data it is sharing with the NSA

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By on July 18, 2013 at 10:44 am

Microsoft’s legal and corporate affairs general counsel — and executive vice president — Brad Smith has responded to claims that the company handed over information on its Skype, Outlook and SkyDrive users to the NSA as part of the recent controversies around the PRISM program.

In a post on TechNet, Smith explains that the company has asked the United States government for more freedom to disclose how they handle national security requests for user information. Smith claims that “the U.S. Constitution guarantees our freedom to share more information with the public, yet the Government is stopping us.”

Smith insists that the government does not gain “direct and unfettered access”, but rather that each request is handled by Microsoft on a case-by-case basis, and that the amount of users who have been investigated by the NSA is something like “a fraction of a percent”.

Smith also explained that data intercepted by the NSA would remain its encrypted state, and that Microsoft does “not provide any government with the ability to break the encryption, nor do we provide the government with the encryption keys.”

If you’re a regular Microsoft product user — I know I use Skype every day for work — it’s worth taking a look at the full blog post for more.

Source: TechNet

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13 comments (Leave your own)

Now it comes down to, do we trust what Microsoft says?

It all stinks, but what can yo do eh?

 

Wow, a spy agency spying on people. Who’d have thunk it?

The only people who should be upset about this are those that are doing something wrong.

Funny how MS is being singled out here, no one care to spare a thought about how much data mining Google does? You think Google Hangout is any safer than Skype? Think again.

 

schikitar:
Wow, a spy agency spying on people. Who’d have thunk it?

The only people who should be upset about this are those that are doing something wrong.

Funny how MS is being singled out here, no one care to spare a thought about how much data mining Google does?You think Google Hangout is any safer than Skype? Think again.

In that case place a web cam in your bathroom, leave it running 24/7 and post the link here, unless of course you’re doing something wrong in there?

 

schikitar:
Wow, a spy agency spying on people. Who’d have thunk it?

The only people who should be upset about this are those that are doing something wrong.

With all due respect (absolutely none, in this case), people like you don’t deserve to live in a free society.

Your ignorance is both appalling and depressing.

 

kinkykel:
Now it comes down to, do we trust what Microsoft says?

It’s a dark day when your choices are ‘trust MS’ or ‘trust the US government’.

 

Let’s assume just for a moment that Microsoft is right. Their reputation is being constantly degraded by accusations they aren’t legally allowed to address. That’s a pretty shitty position to be in. They’ve been asking the government to allow them to talk about these issues and have more or less been ignored. In a recent letter to the United States Attorney General Eric Holder, Microsoft writes:

As I know you appreciate, the Constitution guarantees the fundamental freedom to engage in free expression unless silence is required by a narrowly tailored, compelling Government interest. It’s time to face some obvious facts. Numerous documents are now in the public domain. As a result, there is no longer a compelling Government interest in stopping those of us with knowledge from sharing more information, especially when this information is likely to help allay public concerns.

As Tim Cushing wrote on TechDirt, this is basically Microsoft’s way of saying “Your secrets aren’t secret anymore. Get over yourselves”. They may very well decide to talk about these issues even if the government continues to deny them permission to do so, especially if the controversy continues to do significant damage to their reputation.

Even if Microsoft haven’t done anything wrong, I strongly suspect the public won’t support them anyway. They’re a company people love to hate, and I’m not sure if there’s anything they can say or do to change the minds of people who are convinced they’ve done something wrong.

Assuming they’re right, of course.

 

nacimota,
They’re a company people love to hate, and I’m not sure if there’s anything they can say or do to change the minds of people who are convinced they’ve done something wrong.

To be fair though, they’ve done a lot in their history to warrant people’s distrust of them. A leopard cannot change its spots after all.

 

schikitar,

schikitar:

The only people who should be upset about this are those that are doing something wrong.

Ahhh, that old misguided chestnut.

It could equally be applied to any government which tries to implement anti privacy measures.
ie. If the NSA was doing nothing wrong, why do n’t they open themselves up to scrutiny?

why can a government have secrets, but individuals not?

 

I never knew that a constitution existed over there. Do we have one?

 

pantyraider,

Does Centrelink count? It only fraud security. IDK I don’t think we have one. Oh we do have one, Australian National Security. I don’t think they are invasive much.

There is something wrong with schikitar =P I just don’t know =)

schikitar:

The only people who should be upset about this are those that are doing something wrong.

 

kinkykel:
Now it comes down to, do we trust what Microsoft says?

I lol’d a little when I thought about trusting microsoft. Look at what they wanted to do with the Xbone.. always on kinect which listens for voice commands and daily connection to the web….NOT SUSS AT ALL!

schikitar,

When we start becoming complacent with that line of thought it will be easier for companies and governments to develop more ways to invade our privacy and screw with our freedom, people that actually believe if we have done nothing wrong then we are fine are truly delusional.

 

schikitar,

I need to point out the obvious. They’re a foreign spy agency, potentially illegally spying not only on their own people (and I do emphasise illegally here) but on us as well. This is in no way acceptable and people should be outraged if widespread privacy rights violations are happening.

It would be a different thing if state or federal police, or maybe (an Australian) intelligence agency had permission from a court to gather information on someone, but that is not what is at issue here. What is at issue for us is potential surveillance by a foreign power, and for U.S citizens, illegal surveillance by their own government, something they’re supposed to be free from under their laws. As I understand them at least.

 

somexspec,

There’s also that patent application that Microsoft has on the Kinect. The ability to count the number of people in a room, and prevent a movie from playing if there are too many people there. Public showing of movies and all that, prohibited worldwide courtesy of America’s beloved M.P.A.A.

 
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