Microsoft Declares Right to Disclose Government Requests
Microsoft issues the company's strongest denials yet on direct National Security Agency links to its cloud servers.In the wake of the National Security Agency ( NSA) Prism controversy, Microsoft wants to come clean on how it handles national security requests for user data. Citing a First Amendment right to release such information, Microsoft joined a chorus of other big tech firms in getting the official go-ahead from the U.S. government. Now, Microsoft is signaling that its patience with Washington is wearing thin. In a July 16 letter from Microsoft General Counsel Bradford L. Smith, the Redmond, Wash.-based software and cloud services giant made an appeal to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder "to get involved personally in assessing the Constitutional issues raised by Microsoft and other companies that have repeatedly asked to share publicly more complete information about how we handle national security requests for customer information." He added that it will take the "personal involvement of you or the president to set things right" as the issues languish among the agencies tasked with settling the matter. On June 14, John Frank, vice president and deputy general counsel for Microsoft, released some statistics in a blog post on the government's requests for user data for the last half of 2012. "For the six months ended Dec. 31, 2012, Microsoft received between 6,000 and 7,000 criminal and national security warrants, subpoenas and orders affecting between 31,000 and 32,000 consumer accounts from U.S. governmental entities (including local, state and federal)."
According to Smith, the FBI denied Microsoft's request to share more detailed information. So the company turned to the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in a motion filed on June 19. Smith, arguing that "we're not making adequate progress," wrote that nearly a month later, the government is still considering its response to Microsoft's motion.