Microsoft joins Google in US spying suit

Aug 31, 2013
The new Windows Store Only at Best Buy on August 7, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. Microsoft says that a battle to shed light on secret US government requests for Internet user data would play out in court after failed peace talks.

Microsoft says that a battle to shed light on secret US government requests for Internet user data will play out in court after failed peace talks.

Microsoft and Google filed suits in federal court in June, arguing a right to make public more information about user data requests made under the auspices of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

The technology titans agreed six times to extend the deadline for the government to respond to the lawsuits, allowing time for negotiations that "ended in failure," Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith said in a blog post.

"To followers of technology issues, there are many days when Microsoft and Google stand apart," Smith said.

"But today our two companies stand together... We believe we have a clear right under the US Constitution to share more information with the public."

Silicon Valley Internet titans want to be able to provide users with better insight into what information the government gets its hands on.

The issue caught fire after Edward Snowden, a former IT contractor at the National Security Agency (NSA), revealed that US authorities were tapping into Internet user data, sometimes using national security letters that bar companies from telling anyone about the requests.

US officials on Thursday said they would begin publishing annual tallies of national security requests for Internet user data, but that step is not enough, according to Smith.

Graphic timeline showing when a US agency began spying on the servers of nine Internet giants including Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and Google, according to a report in the Washington Post citing a career intelligence officer.

"For example, we believe it is vital to publish information that clearly shows the number of national security demands for user content, such as the text of an email," Smith said.

He argued that, along with providing numbers of requests, disclosures should provide context regarding what is being sought.

"We believe it's possible to publish these figures in a manner that avoids putting security at risk," Smith said.

"With the failure of our recent negotiations, we will move forward with litigation in the hope that the courts will uphold our right to speak more freely."

Microsoft and Google filed suits in federal court in June, arguing a right to make public more information about user data requests made under the auspices of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

There has been a wave of legal action since revelations in the media about the PRISM program, believed to collect vast amounts of phone and Internet data as part of efforts to protect national security.

Internet companies have stated they release information only in response to specific court orders, and claim that reports about providing easy access to US authorities are exaggerated.

US authorities insist the surveillance programs are entirely lawful and have helped thwart dozens of terror attacks.

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User comments : 11

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TheKnowItAll
3.1 / 5 (15) Aug 31, 2013
I applaud both companies for fighting the perversion that the government is pushing on them.
Protoplasmix
3 / 5 (14) Aug 31, 2013
You cannot simultaneously defend the constitution and be repugnant to it.
kochevnik
2 / 5 (8) Aug 31, 2013
How did mankind survive for eons without the NSA reading their email? Of course the ability to rat and spy on each other is the basis of a great society. It worked for Ceausescu in Romania!
kelman66
3.1 / 5 (8) Aug 31, 2013
But it isnt ok for Snowden to fight against this. Democracy takes more effort to keep than it does to win.
You must be relentless in defending it because others are relentless in tearing it down.
Always.
Protoplasmix
2.8 / 5 (13) Aug 31, 2013
Democracy takes more effort to keep than it does to win.
You must be relentless in defending it because others are relentless in tearing it down.
Always.

The implementation of mass surveillance, and a secret court, and granting dictatorial powers ('executive privilege') to a single individual, is *not* preservation of democracy; it is the circumvention of it.
chardo137
2 / 5 (8) Aug 31, 2013
If the govt. had thwarted even a single terror attack they would have trumpeted it from every podium. They lie just because they can sometimes.
jamesbuddy
1 / 5 (1) Aug 31, 2013
The only way such broad spying would be alright with me is if there was no corruption or abuse and the people behind it had good intentions. Wow, none of the above, not even one.
GoodImp
1 / 5 (9) Aug 31, 2013
Google has earned some respect from me. But I wonder why is it we allow companies to do the same we try to bar the gov't from doing. The "if a company does it, we get the wrong ad" argument only goes so far. If "YOUR" information is being collected, profiled, and sold out there, then eventually the company you work would have access to purchase that packet about you. It isn't a stretch as companies have scoured social media sites (like Facebook) in an excuse to fire someone. In most cases, that stretching the need to protect the company. But, hey, I don't own a business; so I wouldn't know. Does anyone find this behavior acceptable by anyone?
Humpty
1 / 5 (11) Aug 31, 2013
Microsoft has been spying on everyone, using every means possible, since the year dot.

There is a good reason why they match you (personal details), your operating system (Unique ID number) with your hardware component unique numbers (CPU / MO/BO HDD etc).

And Microsoft load up your PC with spyware programs that monitor your internet activities, like EntriqMediaTray.exe for instance.

http://www.file.n...exe.html

http://irdeto.com...ent.html

Microsoft have been keeping tabs on all users - connecting to the net exponentiates the surveilance.

http://www.echarc...?t=10159

This whole thing about the NSA - and Prism, everyone of them is "in on it."

Australia, Canada, New Zealand, UK, and the US started a program called "Echelon" over 50 years ago to eavesdrop on world-wide radio (and later satellite) and phone comms - it was the 'cold-war' era. "Carnivore" - originally a US data spying system.
johngo
1 / 5 (5) Sep 01, 2013
We've already known about the Pentagon dishing out spying software to companies like Walmart to diminish the threats against them from anit-wal mart groups. My other paranoid fear is the involvement of organized crime and extortionist have to spying technology. What would you do if personal information were used in a slanderous manner? There are thousands of uses for data mining and many can imagine extreme senarios. If the government doesn't police and protect, who do we turn to? Just saying.

Google is giving in on both China and U.S. surveillance. Until Snowden, Google had to bend to the government. Like Microsoft and Google have the military will the secure themselves. This is temporary PR. A Manhattan style project with a new technology liken to Quantum computing will render passwords obsolete. Google owns a Dwave.

Very talented computer "hackers" are not being punished for crimes against individuals, they are being paid more money.
nochoa3
1 / 5 (3) Sep 02, 2013
fight the power!