Microsoft: US failure to stop snooping hurts tech

It’s been one year since Edward Snowden started to leak NSA surveillance files, and Microsoft has now called for change lest cloud adoption be slowed.

Microsoft: US failure to stop snooping hurts tech

Writing on the company website, Microsoft’s general counsel Brad Smith, has warned that, while the leaks prompted “some initial positive reforms”, the US government must still address “important unfinished business to reduce the technology trust deficit it has created”.

The issue of data privacy was raised in “virtually every meeting” Smith attended on a recent trip to Europe, the blog post reveals. “These concerns have real implications for cloud adoption,” Smith notes. “After all, people won’t use technology they don’t trust.”

These concerns have real implications for cloud adoption

Smith calls for a set of changes, saying the American government must recognise that US search warrants end at its own borders; end bulk collection of data; reform courts that deal with surveillance issues; and continue to increase transparency on data demands.

Microsoft is also asking for the US to commit not to hack datacentres or cables. “Shouldn’t a government that prosecutes foreigners who hack into US companies stop its own employees from hacking into such businesses?”, writes Smith. “Why must we continue to wait for an assurance on this issue?”

Smith’s criticism isn’t limited to the US, calling for an international effort and global legal frameworks to protect users online.

Microsoft criticism

Microsoft’s call to action has been backed by CEO’s from Google, Apple and other tech firms in an open letter printed in US newspapers – but mocked by privacy experts.

Christopher Soghoian, principal technologist at the ACLU, said on Twitter: “Microsoft, which secretly modified Skype to be wiretap-friendly at request of FBI, complains about NSA trust deficit.”

“I don’t doubt that Microsoft means this (critique of NSA) but what have they done to earn our trust? Way too little,” added Dan Gillmore, a tech investor and academic.

The company was criticised earlier this year for scanning user emails in order to track down an internal leak.

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