Microsoft allowed NSA full access to encrypted information
It has been revealed that computer company Microsoft helped US intelligence services bypass its encryption mechanisms to acquire easier access to private user data, including information from Outlook.com, SkyDrive and Skype.
Documents given to The Guardian, supplied by Edward Snowden, have indicated the degree to which tech companies associated with the National Security Association (NSA) and its PRISM programme.
Microsoft have since defended itself, citing a legal obligation to co-operate with requests from the authorities while ensuring it does not “provide blanket or direct access” to its services.
A statement read: “We take our commitments to our customers and to compliance with applicable laws very seriously, so we provide customer data only in response to legal processes.”
The statement continued, “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”.
The statement concluded, saying: “To be clear, Microsoft does not provide any government with blanket or direct access to SkyDrive, Outlook.com, Skype or any Microsoft product.”
On the contrary, Snowden’s leaks have indicated that Microsoft have not only provided the NSA unwarranted access to customer data but that customer data is freely shared between the FBI and the CIA.
The NSA were given easier access to SkyDrive, web chats via Outlook.com and in July 2012 developed the ability to collate three times as many Skype calls as it had been doing previously.
Cooperation between data firms and the authorities has been well publicised recently. It was reported yesterday that two French human rights groups have issued a legal complaint against the NSA, the FBI and seven tech firms.
The complaint named Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Paltalk, Facebook, AOL and Apple as “potential accomplices” of the NSA and the FBI.
The tech firms involved have meanwhile continued to deny the extent to which the allegations stretch.