Friday, July 12, 2013

Microsoft: NSA spies

The latest NSA leak: Microsoft is spying for the NSA:

Microsoft has collaborated closely with US intelligence services to allow users' communications to be intercepted, including helping the National Security Agency to circumvent the company's own encryption, according to top-secret documents obtained by the Guardian.

The files provided by Edward Snowden illustrate the scale of co-operation between Silicon Valley and the intelligence agencies over the last three years. They also shed new light on the workings of the top-secret Prism program, which was disclosed by the Guardian and the Washington Post last month.

The documents 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 portal;

• The agency already had pre-encryption stage access to email on, 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...

So, if you use Outlook, Hotmail, Skydrive or Skype, the NSA gets all your stuff. Which they then share with the CIA, FBI, and anyone else they feel like.

This goes well beyond merely providing information in response to warrants. Instead, Microsoft are active collaborators in the US panopticon, invading their user's privacy on behalf of their government. This is not something we as customers should tolerate. The problem is that there's probably nowhere to go: Microsoft has an effective monopoly on domestic operating systems (no, geeks, Linux is not a credible alternative), and any major alternative will almost certainly be a collaborator as well. Corporate oligopoly gives us no means of escape, unless we want to go back to using typewriters.

Which means that if we want to tackle this problem, and get our privacy back, we need to kill it at its source: government. which means taking back control of our government from the spies, then slashing their budgets and power so they can never do this to us again.