Microsoft denies NSA has direct access to email, instant messages

July 16, 2013 at 8:07 PM
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REDMOND, Wash., July 16 (UPI) -- Microsoft says contrary to some news reports the company does not give the U.S. National Security Agency direct access to customers' email or instant messages.

Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith said news reports last week alleging Microsoft helped the NSA circumvent the company's own encryption in order to conduct surveillance on email accounts through were not true, PC World reported.

"We do not provide any government with direct access to emails or instant messages," Smith wrote in a blog post Tuesday. "Full stop."

Microsoft has asked U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to permit it and other Internet providers to share "more complete information" with customers explaining how they handle national security requests for user information, Smith said.

"To be clear, we do not provide any government with the ability to break the encryption, nor do we provide the government with the encryption keys," he wrote. "When we are legally obligated to comply with [government] demands, we pull the specified content from our servers where it sits in an unencrypted state, and then we provide it to the government agency."

When presented with a legal order such as a search warrant or national security letter, Microsoft does provides government access to data stored in its SkyDrive service and to Skype calls, Smith said.

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