Published on
by
Common Dreams

Revealed: Microsoft's Secret Collaboration With NSA

Leaked NSA messages show 'deep and ongoing' relationship with Silicon Valley

by
Jacob Chamberlain, staff writer

The latest NSA leaks revealed by the Guardian on Thursday show the vast scope and scale of which Microsoft and its well known affiliates Skype and Outlook.com worked with the U.S. government to enable the interception of the internet communications of millions of people.

Messages from an internal NSA bulletin system seen by the Guardian reveal a working relationship between the intelligence community and the software giant that is "deep and ongoing." Reporting on the messages portray the company's willingness to comply with the NSA's surveillance practices.

The discovery, which was made available through leaks provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, runs counter to claims by Microsoft and the other implicated companies that have denied knowledge of the NSA's dragnet surveillance program known as Prism.

Ironically, as the Guardian points out, Microsoft's latest marketing campaign states: "Your privacy is our priority."

As the Guardian summarizes, the messages show that:

  • Microsoft helped the NSA to circumvent its encryption to address concerns that the agency would be unable to intercept web chats on the new Outlook.com portal;
  • The agency already had pre-encryption stage access to email on Outlook.com, including Hotmail;
  • The company worked with the FBI this year to allow the NSA easier access via Prism to its cloud storage service SkyDrive, which now has more than 250 million users worldwide;
  • Microsoft also worked with the FBI's Data Intercept Unit to "understand" potential issues with a feature in Outlook.com that allows users to create email aliases;
  • Skype, which was bought by Microsoft in October 2011, worked with intelligence agencies last year to allow Prism to collect video of conversations as well as audio;
  • Material collected through Prism is routinely shared with the FBI and CIA, with one NSA document describing the program as a "team sport".

The revelations will come as a surprise to Skype users, said ACLU technology expert Chris Soghoian. "In the past, Skype made affirmative promises to users about their inability to perform wiretaps," he said. "It's hard to square Microsoft's secret collaboration with the NSA with its high-profile efforts to compete on privacy with Google."

_______________________

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Share This Article

More in: