Microsoft denies providing US govt access to customer data

PTI Washington | Updated on March 12, 2018 Published on July 17, 2013


Reacting to the reports of US government’s access to customer data, software giant Microsoft has said that it did not allow any government to have direct or unfettered access to private information.

Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel, in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder said the company “does not provide any government with the ability to break the encryption”, nor it “provides the government with the encryption keys”.

“When we are legally obligated to comply with demands, we pull the specified content from our servers where it sits in an unencrypted state, and then we provide it to the government agency,” Smith wrote.

“The constitution itself is suffering,” Smith said in his letter to Holder, adding that “it will take the personal involvement of you or the President to set things right.”

The American tech giant asserted that it does not provide any government with direct access to emails or instant messages.

“When governments seek information from Microsoft relating to customers, we strive to be principled, limited in what we disclose, and committed to transparency,” said Smith.

Later in a blog, Smith said, “If a government wants customer data – including for national security purposes – it needs to follow applicable legal process, meaning it must serve us with a court order for content or subpoena for account information,” it said.

“We only respond to requests for specific accounts and identifiers. There is no blanket or indiscriminate access to Microsoft’s customer data,” he wrote.

“Like all providers of communications services, we are sometimes obligated to comply with lawful demands from governments to turn over content for specific accounts, pursuant to a search warrant or court order,” he said.

Recent leaked government documents have focused on the addition of HTTPS encryption to instant messaging, which is designed to make this content more secure as it travels across the Internet, he said.

According to Microsoft official there are significant inaccuracies in the interpretations of leaked government documents reported in the media last week.

“We have asked the Government again for permission to discuss the issues raised by these new documents, and our request was denied by government lawyers,” he said.

Published on July 17, 2013
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor