How Microsoft handed U.S. NSA, FBI, CIA access to users’ encrypted video, audio, and text communications

“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,” Glenn Greenwald, Ewen MacAskill, Laura Poitras, Spencer Ackerman and Dominic Rushe report for 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 quintet reports. “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 that allows users to create email aliases; In July last year, nine months after Microsoft bought Skype, the NSA boasted that a new capability had tripled the amount of Skype video calls being collected through Prism; Material collected through Prism is routinely shared with the FBI and CIA, with one NSA document describing the program as a ‘team sport.'”

PRISM“The latest NSA revelations further expose the tensions between Silicon Valley and the Obama administration. All the major tech firms are lobbying the government to allow them to disclose more fully the extent and nature of their co-operation with the NSA to meet their customers’ privacy concerns,” The quintet reports. “Privately, tech executives are at pains to distance themselves from claims of collaboration and teamwork given by the NSA documents, and insist the process is driven by legal compulsion.”

“One document boasts that Prism monitoring of Skype video production has roughly tripled since a new capability was added on 14 July 2012. ‘The audio portions of these sessions have been processed correctly all along, but without the accompanying video. Now, analysts will have the complete ‘picture,'” it says,” The quintet reports. “Eight months before being bought by Microsoft, Skype joined the Prism program in February 2011.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Have fun on those Skype chats now, ya hear?

100% Microsoft-free is the only way to be.™

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Joost Meerman” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
DuckDuckGo search engine surges 33% in wake of PRISM scandal – June 20, 2013
Yahoo: Since December 2012, we have received up to 13,000 U.S. gov’t requests for customer data – June 18, 2013
Apple: Since December 2012, we have received U.S. gov’t requests for customer data for up to 10,000 accounts – June 17, 2013
Nine companies, including Apple, tied to PRISM, Obama to be smacked with class-action lawsuit – June 12, 2013
U.S. lawmakers urge review of ‘Prism’ domestic spying, Patriot Act – June 10, 2013
PRISM: Do Apple, Google, Facebook have an ethical obligation not to spy on users? – June 8, 2013
Plausible deniability: The strange and unbelievable similarities in the Apple, Google, and Facebook PRISM denials – June 7, 2013
Google’s Larry Page on government eavesdropping: ‘We had not heard of a program called PRISM until yesterday’ – June 7, 2013
Seecrypt app lets iPhone, Android users keep voice calls, text messages away from carriers, government eyes and ears – June 7, 2013
Obama administration defends PRISM data-collection as legal anti-terrorism tool – June 7, 2013
Facebook, Google, Yahoo join Apple in sort-of denying PRISM involvement – June 7, 2013
Report: Intelligence program gives U.S. government direct access to customer data on Apple servers; Apple denies – June 6, 2013


    1. Well, they do have a unit just off Hwy. 101 in Mountain View, about 15 minutes north of Apple. Used to be their Mac software unit, don’t know if it’s still the same group.

      1. Yes, and Samsung just annouced yesterday that they will open a branch in San Jose. They will transfer 200 and hire up to 1,000. I expect they will get quite a few Apple employees to apply. Wonder if Samsung will coop with NSA? BTW a Hyundai with U.S. government plates past me on 101 today. What is wrong with Ford and Chevy? I wonder if the feds are using Samsung phones. Is nothing sacred anymore?

    1. That’s not actually a logo for the program, that’s a logo created by someone out there to represent the more than troublesome nature of the program. You are right, it is in the style of the Euro-socialist Fascist propaganda of the past. It is meant to conjure images of 1984’s Ingsoc (English Socialism) and Big Brother, government run amok with the blessings of the people kind of thing.

    1. It’s kind of nuts. Why not just leave it unencrypted instead going threw all the trouble of deceptively making look secure?

      Now that I think about it, I think I figured out the motivation – it makes it harder for anyone outside the US government & Microsoft to get the same unrestricted access they do.

    2. It’s like the old saying that locks on your doors and windows only keep the honest people honest. Locks won’t stop any real thief who is determined to get into your home.

  1. All you Obama voters must be so proud… One day you will be able to tell your grandchildren…

    I voted for the man who inaugurated the new area of NEO FASCISM!

    You scum sucking POS assholes!

    1. I suppose you think Mitty RoMoney would have done better? Was he the candidate that was going enforce better ethical practices on government agencies and businesses after striking down the Patriot Act?

      For the record, I voted for a third party last election – and I implore everyone reading this to do the same next time. Both parties are transparent in their corruption, and you have the right (and I’d argue obligation) to vote against both of them.

  2. Don’t be surprised if we find out that Apple also has given the NSA the same kinds of access. (I hope this isn’t the case but seeing as what’s going on lately, I think it may very well be).

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Linux has also been compromised.

    1. I wouldn’t be surprised. Make a deal with the devil, as in fat government contracts, and the cost could be the soul, which I fear for Apple is gone now. I hear how FaceTime is so very encrypted, but here’s a case of encryption not mattering. The fix to this calamity is to replace every person in a seat of power in all three branches of government, since it is safe to assume total widespread corruption in light of current times.

    2. From what I’ve learned so far from the PRISM leaks, Microsoft and Facebook seemed the most cooperative and provided far more information than Apple or Yahoo. I’m still not clear about how complicit Google was. I will still be surprised if it turns out Apple did anything as radical as working to compromise the encrypted communications of its customers. It would be terrible if Linux were somehow compromised – the majority of web servers in the world would be effected. I hope we keep getting more leaks and to get the bottom of all of immense scandal. Godspeed Mr. Snowden!

    1. It’s critical. We can’t trust the government in these matters. The only hope for secure communications is if companies develop their systems to make it impossible for even them to compromise under under government order.

      It all does hinge on whether Apple really has the ethics and skills to fulfill the promise they made for truly secure end-to-end encryption. It’s a shame the US legal system and government have failed so badly that we need to to depend on private companies to protect such critical civil liberties.

      1. *DING* Prize winning comment of the week! Thank you gcaptain5!

        Always remember folks: When in doubt, head over to Apple’s Disk Utility and wrap your data up in an encrypted sparse disk or sparse bundle disk image. The NSA ain’t crackin’ into them babies. 256-bit encryption rulz. Your US 4th Amendment right to privacy CAN be maintained, despite the crooks in government. 😀

  3. The company worked with the FBI this year to allow the NSA easier access via Prism to its cloud storage service SkyDrive

    Aha! A friend had me set up a SkyDrive account for sharing stuff, but I didn’t quite feel comfortable with it and never used it. My instincts proved correct! Isn’t it fascinating how avoiding anything Microsoft consistently pays off? 😀

  4. There was a comment on the Spiegal site from a guy who said he bought a computer from Walmart that had a TAO back door. Geez! If I here this from Eric Snowden along with other primary evidence I will then believe it. Until then I’m very skeptical.

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