Newsletters
News & Information for Technology Purchasers NewsFactor Sites:       NewsFactor.com     Enterprise Security Today     CRM Daily     Business Report     Sci-Tech Today  
   
This ad will display for the next 20 seconds. Click for more information, or
Home Enterprise I.T. Cloud Computing Applications Hardware More Topics...
Eliminate costly downtime!
Find out how with Free White Paper
& enter to win a Samsung Galaxy Note

www.apc.com
Apple/Mac
Real-time info services with Neustar
Average Rating:
Rate this article:  
Microsoft Rebuffs Guardian
Microsoft Rebuffs Guardian's Spying Accusations

By Jennifer LeClaire
July 17, 2013 12:51PM

    Bookmark and Share
"Microsoft is basically handcuffed because they can't defend themselves without disclosing information supposedly of national security importance," said Rob Helm, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft, talking about accusations that the software giant helped the NSA intercept consumer communications and even skirt its security encryption.
 



The Guardian, a UK newspaper, opened up a can of constitutional worms with a story that flat out accused Microsoft of helping the National Security Agency (NSA) intercept consumer communications and even skirt its security encryption.

The Guardian cited "top-secret" security documents. The paper claims it has files that prove Microsoft also "helped the FBI allow the NSA easier access via Prism to its cloud storage service SkyDrive." The story alleges Skype video calls were also being collected.

"The files show that the NSA became concerned about the interception of encrypted chats on Microsoft's Outlook.com portal from the moment the company began testing the service in July last year," The Guardian reports. "Within five months, the documents explain, Microsoft and the FBI had come up with a solution that allowed the NSA to circumvent encryption on Outlook.com chats."

Smith Talks Back

Brad Smith, general counsel and executive vice president at Microsoft, wrote a blog post to clear up the matter. He said there are "significant inaccuracies" in the interpretations of leaked government documents reported in the media last week.

"Microsoft does not provide any government with direct and unfettered access to our customer's data. Microsoft only pulls and then provides the specific data mandated by the relevant legal demand," Smith said.

"If a government wants customer data -- including for national security purposes -- it needs to follow applicable legal process, meaning it must serve us with a court order for content or subpoena for account information," he said.

Smith went on to say that Microsoft only responds to requests for specific accounts and identifiers. There is no blanket or indiscriminate access to Microsoft's customer data, he said, and the aggregate data the company has been able to publish shows clearly that only a tiny fraction -- fractions of a percent -- of Microsoft customers have ever been subject to a government demand related to criminal law or national security.

"Microsoft is obligated to comply with the applicable laws that governments around the world -- not just the United States -- pass, and this includes responding to legal demands for customer data," Smith said. "All of us now live in a world in which companies and government agencies are using big data, and it would be a mistake to assume this somehow is confined to the United States. Agencies likely obtain this information from a variety of sources and in a variety of ways, but if they seek customer data from Microsoft they must follow legal processes."

How Critical Is This?

We caught up with Rob Helm, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft, to get his take on the controversy. He told us Microsoft is working hard to build trust with customers -- and U.S. government policy is getting in the way.

"Microsoft is basically handcuffed because they can't defend themselves without disclosing information supposedly of national security importance," Helm said. Smith makes it clear in his letter that he believes Microsoft is within its rights under the U.S. Constitution to disclose much more about the data it collects for government agencies.

"This is a critical issue for Microsoft because the company is looking to its cloud services to reinvent its software business," Helm said. "If you look at what Steve Ballmer says the company's primary priorities are, it's devices and services. The services plank will be wobbly as long as people don't know that their data are safe from snooping."
 

Tell Us What You Think
Comment:

Name:

Jim Crawford:

Posted: 2013-07-17 @ 3:32pm PT
I'm surprised it took Microsoft so long to speak out. As their legal counsel observes, electronic surveillance requires a court order, is confined to targeted individuals and has a set time limit after which the "tap" must be turned off. There's no Big Brother with blanked authority to access our personal info & communications.

Surveillance is dull hard work. Not particularly sexy. It takes an Ed Snowjob and paranoid fantasies to help sell British tabloids.



Get Powerful App Acceleration with Cisco. In a world where time is money, you need to accelerate the speed at which data moves through your data center. Cisco UCS Invicta delivers powerful, easy-to-manage application acceleration for data-intensive workloads. So you can make decisions faster and outpace the competition. Learn More.


 Apple/Mac
1.   New App to Manage Time Better
2.   MacBook Pros Get Update, Price Cut
3.   U.S. Firms Fish for Growth Overseas
4.   Will Next OS X Bring New Apple Grief?
5.   Apple and Samsung Feel the Heat


advertisement
Apple Digital Book Settlement Set
But company still appealing decision.
Average Rating:
New App to Manage Time Better
Helping to organize your busy life.
Average Rating:
U.S. Firms Fish for Growth Overseas
Tech trendsetters are going abroad.
Average Rating:
Product Information and Resources for Technology You Can Use To Boost Your Business

Network Security Spotlight
New 'Backoff' Malware Slips Undetected into Retail Systems
'Malicious actors' are using a new variety of malware to access consumer payment data remotely through point-of-sale systems, according to a report from the Department of Homeland Security.
 
IBM Beefs Up Identity Intelligence Security Solutions
Big Blue is betting big on identity intelligence. IBM just acquired a private firm with security software to govern user access to apps and data across cloud and on-premise environments.
 
USB Security Flaw Lets Hackers Hijack PCs
Hackers can use the firmware that controls USB functions to take control of computers, say security experts. That means there may be a new class of attack for which there are no defenses.
 

Enterprise Hardware Spotlight
AMD's ARM-Based Opteron Out in $3K Dev Kit
It's dubbed "Seattle" and it's AMD's first 64-bit ARM-based Opteron processor. The low-power chip is being released as part of AMD’s Opteron A1100-series developer kit, and aimed at high-end data center needs.
 
Apple Updates MacBook Pros, Cuts Prices Up to $100
The popular MacBook Pro laptop line just got an update and a price cut of as much as $100. The MacBook Pro with Retina display now includes faster processors and double the memory.
 
Dell, BlackBerry Not Sweating Apple-IBM Alliance
IBM's recent move to partner with Apple to sell iPhones and iPads loaded with corporate applications has excited investors in both companies, but two rivals say they are unperturbed for now.
 

Mobile Technology Spotlight
BlackBerry Messenger Now Available on Windows Phone
BlackBerry's free Messenger chatting and voice app is out of beta and widely available for Windows Phone users, the company said. BBM offers secure messaging, Groups, Voice, Channels and more.
 
Virgin Mobile Offers Custom Smartphone Plans
As the wireless carrier wars continue heating up, Virgin Mobile just threw the customization coal onto the fire. The firm has debuted a no-annual-contract plan with rates based on individual use.
 
Collaboration Provider Asana Revamps Mobile App
Asana, a collaboration software provider started by a Facebook founder, is now out with a rebuilt native iOS mobile app. It replaces one that even the company admits was not up to par.
 

Navigation
NewsFactor Network
Home/Top News | Enterprise I.T. | Cloud Computing | Applications | Hardware | Mobile Tech | Big Data | Communications
World Wide Web | Network Security | Data Storage | CRM Systems | Microsoft/Windows | Apple/Mac | Linux/Open Source | Personal Tech
Press Releases
NewsFactor Network Enterprise I.T. Sites
NewsFactor Technology News | Enterprise Security Today | CRM Daily

NewsFactor Business and Innovation Sites
Sci-Tech Today | NewsFactor Business Report

NewsFactor Services
FreeNewsFeed | Free Newsletters

About NewsFactor Network | How To Contact Us | Article Reprints | Careers @ NewsFactor | Services for PR Pros | Top Tech Wire | How To Advertise

Privacy Policy | Terms of Service
© Copyright 2000-2014 NewsFactor Network. All rights reserved. Article rating technology by Blogowogo. Member of Accuserve Ad Network.