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Microsoft denies NSA direct access claims

Microsoft denies NSA direct access claims

Documents leaked by Edward Snowden to the Guardian have claimed that Microsoft has granted the NSA direct access to its various servers - a claim the company strongly denies.

Microsoft has hit back at claims that it provides government security agencies, including the secretive US National Security Agency (NSA), with complete access to its supposedly encrypted data storage systems.

The claims come courtesy of the Guardian, which has been working closely with whistleblower Edward Snowden to publicise documents which he claims show sustained and illegal monitoring by the NSA and other US security agencies, including monitoring of US citizens - something forbidden by the NSA's charter, which permits it only to monitor foreign nationals.

According to the Guardian, documents leaked by Snowden detail back-door access to Microsoft systems granted by the company to the NSA. These systems include Hotmail and Outlook.com email storage servers, which gave the NSA access to unencrypted emails, chat logs and address books for all the company's numerous customers, as well as the Skype voice-over-IP (VoIP) platform and SkyDrive cloud storage service. In all cases, the NSA and its Prism computer network have been claimed to have access to unencrypted data, which is then shared with other agencies including the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI.)

While Microsoft doesn't deny that it has worked with law enforcement agencies, the company has issued a statement which claims that there are no 'blanket orders' giving government agencies direct access to any Microsoft products or services.

'We have clear principles which guide the response across our entire company to government demands for customer information for both law enforcement and national security issues,' the company's statement reads. '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,' the company's statement concludes.

With fears over privacy at an all-time high, Snowden's claims via the Guardian could prove damaging for the company - but Microsoft is hardly in a unique position, with similar claims having been levelled against Google, Apple and other technology giants in recent months, all of whom have denied the accusations.

16 Comments

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steveo_mcg 12th July 2013, 10:25 Quote
Well they would say that wouldn't they. Lets see the source code :D
Stanley Tweedle 12th July 2013, 10:29 Quote
Piratebay team are working on an NSA proof chat application for mobiles.
sub routine 12th July 2013, 11:05 Quote
i`m not really that interested as we don`t, as of yet, live in a police state. That and i`m pretty boring.
Dave Lister 12th July 2013, 11:09 Quote
Woo hoo, go Mr Snowden ! In all seriousness though, I hope Snowden exposes all the scuzballs who are working against the general population.
Corky42 12th July 2013, 11:11 Quote
Evidence and/or rumors of NSA back-doors being in Windows have been floating around all the way back to 1999
http://www.heise.de/tp/artikel/5/5263/1.html
I do find it funny though when people say OMG our spy's are spying on people :)
mi1ez 12th July 2013, 11:35 Quote
Quote:
monitoring of US citizens - something forbidden by the NSA's charter, which permits it only to monitor foreign nationals.

WHAAAAA?!
miller 12th July 2013, 11:53 Quote
Quote:
monitoring of US citizens - something forbidden by the NSA's charter, which permits it only to monitor foreign nationals.

We can see what's been happening now, so the UK monitors the USA and passes the info to them and the USA monitors the UK and they give the info to the UK and neither party has actively spied on it's own.
Woodspoon 12th July 2013, 13:30 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by miller

We can see what's been happening now, so the UK monitors the USA and passes the info to them and the USA monitors the UK and they give the info to the UK and neither party has actively spied on it's own.

yup and neither of them seem to be doing a very good job of it.
where's terrorist A gone? "ah well he was in the country but now we're not sure"
where's security leak B gone "ummm don't know, china, maybe? he was here when we last looked though"
SAimNE 12th July 2013, 15:02 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by steveo_mcg
Well they would say that wouldn't they. Lets see the source code :D
i'd rather windows not publicly release their source code. im forced to use it for gaming, and i really dont want it to be even less secure :|
DC74 12th July 2013, 15:08 Quote
No wonder Hotmail accounts can't be logged into sometimes for hours, they must be sending them copies of all our e-mails. Hey NSA maybe you can do something about this Adriana spam I've blocked like 100 times they still get through though...
Gradius 12th July 2013, 16:32 Quote
U.S. isn't in "police state" anymore. Is MARTIAL LAW now! Why you think they are spying everybody? Terrorist? You must be a complete fool to believe them. Even M$ is lying. Terrorism is just a stupid excuse for those completly desinformed. They are doing that because the general sold a F-15 loaded of NUKES, of course, he committed suicide days after. So yes, the U.S. (true axis of evil) is just DESESPERATE as there is no counter-attack to a nuke attack from those with no nation, with no ideals, etc. Anyway, the U.S. created a new seed of evil yet again!
Gradius 12th July 2013, 16:34 Quote
A month ago @ Gmail was impossible to log in. UK can trap over 600M telephones and they are also doing this super dirty "job".
Fused 12th July 2013, 19:54 Quote
Apart from one brief glimpse at a powerpoint slide has anyone actually seen the documents that he has released? I guess I should be heading over to wikileaks?
liratheal 15th July 2013, 09:15 Quote
Oh good lord.

Really?

Conspiracy theorists are mostly absurd lunatics, this entire thing is hokum, and the notion that either the US or UK governments could actively monitor almost half a billion people and supposedly pass data between each other with nobody noticing before now?

Bullshit. Biggest proof that this is crap IMO. Our government couldn't even keep schtum about their own expenses, let alone monitoring every computer connected to the internet in the United States.
Fused 15th July 2013, 14:27 Quote
Actively monitor is the wrong way of looking at it. I understand it to be more that data is automatically stored on emails/instant messaging conversations etc. This data is held for about a month and can be processed with general search terms or they can look into specific individual cases.

Thats my interpretation of the news lately anway. Remember in both cases the people supposedly doing this are government agencies rather than the governments themselves. How much those in power know about in the inner workings of these schemes/systems is anyones guess.
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