Government lawyers “yet to respond to petition to publish volume of national security requests we’ve received”.
Microsoft hasn’t been having the best summer. On top of gamers uniformly rejecting the company’s DRM policies for the Xbox One, the company has come under fire regarding privacy concerns from an always-on Kinect.
The last thing they needed was to be involved with the PRISM scandal that the NSA has been conducting worldwide.
However, general counsel & executive vice president of legal & corporate affairs at Microsoft Brad Smith has sought to clarify several things. He first assured that, “Microsoft does not provide any government with direct and unfettered access to our customer’s data. Microsoft only pulls and then provides the specific data mandated by the relevant legal demand.
“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.
“We only respond to requests for specific accounts and identifiers. There is no blanket or indiscriminate access to Microsoft’s customer data. The aggregate data we have been able to publish shows clearly that only a tiny fraction – fractions of a percent – of our customers have ever been subject to a government demand related to criminal law or national security.”
Smith also stated that, “We have asked the Attorney General of the United States to personally take action to permit Microsoft and other companies to share publicly more complete information about how we handle national security requests for customer information.
“We believe the U.S. Constitution guarantees our freedom to share more information with the public, yet the Government is stopping us. For example, Government lawyers have yet to respond to the petition we filed in court on June 19, seeking permission to publish the volume of national security requests we have received. We hope the Attorney General can step in to change this situation.”
How much significance does this hold, considering officials have had no problem perjuring themselves in Congress when asked about whether United States citizens are under surveillance? We’ll soon found out in the coming months, but until then, Microsoft is working to defuse this issue as soon as possible.