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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."
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.