Edward Snowden claims Microsoft collaborated with NSA and FBI to allow access to user data

New allegations from the NSA whistleblower suggest a degree of collusion between US intelligence agencies and Microsoft that had been previously denied

James Vincent
Friday 12 July 2013 13:37 BST
Microsoft: warned by European Union regulators to modify how it presents Internet Explorer in Windows 8
Microsoft: warned by European Union regulators to modify how it presents Internet Explorer in Windows 8

Microsoft has been accused of actively colluding with US intelligence agencies, helping both the NSA and the FBI to access individuals’ communications and data processed by the tech company’s various services.

These procedures allegedly included helping the NSA to bypass encryption on the Outlook.com email client; providing the FBI and the NSA with easier access to SkyDrive, Microsoft’s cloud storage service, and helping the NSA to boost their capability threefold to intercept video calls made via Skype.

The information is the latest to be revealed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden in a series of leaks.

Citing top-secret documents provided by Snowden, the Guardian newspaper claims that Microsoft collaborated with intelligence agencies in order to streamline their access to citizen’s data.

One document referenced also referred to the collection of information via Prism and shared amongst the FBI, CIA and NSA as a “ team sport”.

Tech companies of Silicon Valley have previously sought to distance themselves from accusations of active collaboration with intelligence agencies, claiming that when they have provided data it has only been because of legal compulsion. However, these allegations suggest a far more willing relationship between government organizations and technology companies.

In a statement given to the Guardian Microsoft repeated their line of defence, saying: “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.”

“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, Google, and other companies implicated in the Prism program have all issued public statements urging the US government to allow them to reveal the full extent and details behind data requests but so far the only forthcoming information has been via Snowden’s leaks.

In their statement regarding the latest allegations Microsoft also stated that “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 Guardian have declined to release the documents detailing Microsoft’s actions, with Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald stating that this because the information was gathered from an online bulletin system, rather than through official documentation.

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