Microsoft, Tech Giants Weigh In on U.S. Spying
Microsoft joins Apple, Google and other tech heavyweights in asking the U.S. government for more transparency over its surveillance efforts.Microsoft and other big tech companies, still reeling from allegations that they help facilitate National Security Agency (NSA) spying, have joined together to voice their support for the USA Freedom Act, which would rein in the agency's surveillance activities The Washington Post published a letter, dated Oct. 31, from several influential tech companies and addressed to the legislation's authors and sponsors in Congress, namely senators Patrick J. Leahy and Michael S. Lee, and John Conyers Jr. and Frank James Sensenbrenner Jr. of the U.S. House of Representatives. In it, they stated that they "welcome the debate about how to protect both national security and privacy interests" and that they "applaud the sponsors of the USA Freedom Act for making an important contribution to this discussion." In a rare show of solidarity, the letter was signed by AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo. Alluding to the headline-grabbing disclosures of classified information provided by ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden, the companies argue that the "volume and complexity of the information that has been disclosed in recent months has created significant confusion here and around the world, making it more difficult to identify appropriate policy prescriptions." In the latest round of revelations, the NSA is said to have the ability to intercept all Google and Yahoo traffic.
The companies also expressed their frustration at being legally hamstrung in providing more detailed data about law-enforcement requests for user data. "Allowing companies to be transparent about the number and nature of requests will help the public better understand the facts about the government's authority to compel technology companies to disclose user data and how technology companies respond to the targeted legal demands we receive," they wrote.