Microsoft Petitions U.S. Government for Surveillance Reform
The software giant joins Mozilla and several civil liberties organizations in calling for an end to the National Security Agency's bulk collection practices.Since Edward Snowden lifted the veil on the U.S. National Security Agency's (NSA) extensive spying capabilities, Microsoft has emerged as an outspoken critic of the government's intelligence-gathering tactics. Today, the Redmond, Wash.-based tech titan is once again imploring government leaders to rein in the NSA. "Today, Microsoft and members of the Reform Government Surveillance coalition, along with civil liberties advocates, sent a letter to the White House and Congressional leaders supporting essential reforms to the USA Patriot Act," announced Fred Humphries, vice president of U.S. Government Affairs for Microsoft. "As we've said before, these reforms must include an end to bulk collection and allow for companies to be transparent about the requests they receive for information." In the wake of the NSA spying scandal, Microsoft compared the intelligence agency's actions to those of hackers—and not the white-hat kind. "Indeed, government snooping potentially now constitutes an 'advanced persistent threat,' alongside sophisticated malware and cyber-attacks," Brad Smith, Microsoft executive vice president and general counsel, said in a December 2013 statement. Microsoft, in the midst of its transition from a PC software maker to a "cloud-first" company, is worried that government attempts to access or intercept private user data will throw a wrench into the growing market for cloud computing services. The company cited similar concerns in a current legal battle over Outlook.com emails that are stored in an Irish data center and are being sought by the U.S. Department of Justice.
"Nearly two years after government surveillance revelations came to light, the U.S. government still has unfinished business to reduce the technology trust deficit it has created," remarked Humphries.