Microsoft Conspires with the NSA in Spying on its Users
By Bryan Dyne
July 13, 2013
Newly released documents reveal the depth of collaboration between Microsoft and the National Security Agency in collecting data from the company’s users, including communications and documents sent or accessed over Outlook.com, SkyDrive and Skype. They also show that Microsoft worked with the NSA to break the company’s own encryption, ensuring the fullest possible access for the agency.
The latest files, provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden and reported in the Guardian, come from the the Special Source Operations (SSO) division. The SSO overseas all programs that target US telecommunications via corporate partnerships, of which Prism, exposed by Snowden last month, is just one.
What has been released so far reveals how Microsoft in particular worked with the US intelligence apparatus to provide full access to all documents and messages of the company’s users. The NSA referred to the program as a “team sport.”
Microsoft—which boasts the slogan is “your privacy is our priority”—was reportedly involved in the Prism program to provide NSA data since 2007, the year the program began. While Microsoft claims that it only submits to “legal processes” initiated by the government, it does not specify what those are. Such a vague statement could mean anything, especially since it is now known that the NSA operates under a set of laws secretly overseen and interpreted by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
According to the documents, a major project between Microsoft and the NSA involved handing over the data passing through Outlook.com, Microsoft’s primary email client, which includes Hotmail. Last July, the NSA became concerned that it would be unable to intercept the encrypted messages being passed through Outlook’s chat service. In response, Microsoft worked with the agency to break its own encryption.