Microsoft’s Alleged Collaboration with the NSA

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The National Security Agency did not have to strong-arm one of the largest and most powerful agencies in the world. Microsoft allegedly, not only provided the data requested, but offered the path to circumvent their own encryption.

This information was retrieved and acquired from none other than Edward Snowden’s acquired secret documents. Silicon Valley is receiving a lot of attention over the last several weeks. While this attention is distracted by offerings of new products and roll-outs, a darker suggestion is being uncovered.

The reason why Microsoft decided to circumvent their own encryption process is still being considered. One alleged reason listed was to assist the NSA, who did not have the advance ability to intercept web chats on the new portal housing Outlook.com

It was reported earlier this year, the powerhouse leader of technology worked with the FBI to gather data from the new portal to detect secondary alias’ created by users. It was the NSA that bragged about the access of information received throughPRISM from Skype calls.

During the Microsoft ownership change in early 2012, the trends underlying the company never changed. Skype transmissions have reportedly been monitored by PRISM since 2011. The surveillance agency was acting on a direct order from the United States Attorney General’s Office. This was quietly held from public knowledge, and embarked on the supposed acquisition of Skype by Microsoft.

The acquisition was finalized in May 2011,and in early 2012 the monitoring continued. Experts leveled accusations at Skype suggesting the company allowed PRISM to expand surveillance, granting further access to the NSA.

For years technology companies have distanced themselves publicly and verbally from government agencies. The documents provided by Snowden show a trail of deceit and misdirection that may mar the usability and trust between the public and those same technology companies.

Microsoft is advising that they merely provided the information as ordered by government agencies,

“We take our commitments to our customers and to compliance with applicable law very seriously, so we provide customer data only in response to legal processes.”

Microsoft has been touting the release of the Xbox One to the public and now a sinister angle has been linked with the announcement. Microsoft will require all users to have a Kinect camera and sound device with it.

This leads to further speculation of privacy information and Microsoft’s suggested collaboration with the NSA. This comes on the tail-end release of Google Glasses, which had many conspiracy theorists pointing to the enabled camera features for consumers to target one another, while providing private information to government agencies.

The process of review is ongoing. The documents were allegedly from the pool of documents by Snowden tying in Microsoft and the NSA in collaboration. Earlier today, Microsoft released the following statement:

First, we take our commitments to our customers and to compliance with applicable law very seriously, so we provide customer data only in response to legal processes.  Second, our compliance team examines all demands very closely, and we reject them if we believe they aren’t valid.  Third, we only ever comply with orders about specific accounts or identifiers, and we would not respond to the kind of blanket orders discussed in the press over the past few weeks, as the volumes documented in our most recent disclosure clearly illustrate. To be clear, Microsoft does not provide any government with blanket or direct access to SkyDrive, Outlook.com, Skype or any Microsoft product.

Finally when we upgrade or update products legal obligations may in some circumstances require that we maintain the ability to provide information in response to a law enforcement or national security request. 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.

 

Angelina Bouc

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