A lengthy new Guardian report claims Microsoft worked directly with the NSA by giving complete back door access to Outlook (and Hotmail), Skype and SkyDrive. The report basically says each service was easily circumvented in order to make the NSA’s job of sleuthing data incredibly easy, as if your private info was selling at a weekend garage sale. One NSA document even described the collaboration with Microsoft as a “team sport.”
Microsoft maintains it has never cooperated with the NSA outside of what it was essentially forced to do, according to the law. But Guardian exposes details showing that just isn’t the case. Even before Microsoft’s Outlook service launched, the NSA was apparently concerned with the level of encryption being implemented by the Redmond company. It only took five months for Microsoft and the FBI to “come up with a solution that allowed the NSA to circumvent encryption on Outlook.com chats.” The service launched shortly after.
There’s a whole list of offenses provided by the Guardian; if you’ve used any of these three services, chances are your actions have been monitored, even if you’re simply chatting with a relative about Thanksgiving casserole. Skype allegedly also worked directly with agencies, even before Microsoft’s acquisition, beginning 2010 to allow Prism to collect both audio and video conversations without a user’s knowledge or consent.
And it goes on like that, with Microsoft painted as a company very actively—even before something like Outlook launched—giving the government access. Microsoft’s services are used far and wide—Kinect’s newfound capabilities sure sound freaky after learning the company is participating so openly, even before being forced to. When something is described as a “team sport,” you don’t expect for it to refer to companies so casually trading private data. But that’s what happening in the world we live in.
“Internal NSA newsletters, marked top secret, suggest the cooperation between the intelligence community and the companies is deep and ongoing.”