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 Outlook.com portal; The agency already had pre-encryption stage access to email on Outlook.com, 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 Outlook.com 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.]

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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
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Report: Intelligence program gives U.S. government direct access to customer data on Apple servers; Apple denies – June 6, 2013

29 Comments

    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. 😀

  1. 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? 😀

  2. 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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