Microsoft attacks US government for blocking national security request data

Microsoft has criticised a delay in the US government allowing it to share requests for national security data.

In an open letter to US Attorney-General Eric Holder, Microsoft general counsel Bradford Smith asks Holder to get personally involved in addressing the constitutional issues raised by leading tech companies seeking to publicly disclose how they share national security requests.

“Since the initial leak of NSA documents, Microsoft has engaged constructively with the Department of Justice, the FBI, and other members of the intelligence community on the ground rules governing our ability to address these issues and the leaked documents publicly

“We have appreciated the good faith in which the Government has dealt with us during this challenging period. But we’re not making adequate progress. When the Department and FBI denied our requests to share more information, we went to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) on June 19 to seek relief. Almost a month later, the Government is still considering its response to our motion.”

In a separate statement, Microsoft has sought to re-iterate it does not grant the US government unfettered access to its email, instant messaging or VoIP services, with the company only providing details in criminal cases with a specific warrant.

“We do not provide any government with direct access to emails or instant messages. Full stop. Like all providers of communications services, we are sometimes obligated to comply with lawful demands from governments to turn over content for specific accounts, pursuant to a search warrant or court order,” Smith states.

Smith also sought to allay fears business customers using Microsoft’s cloud storage services could have their documents covertly handed to the US government without a specific warrant.

“If we receive a government demand for data held by a business customer, we take steps to redirect the government to the customer directly, and we notify the customer unless we are legally prohibited from doing so. We have never provided any government with customer data from any of our business or government customers for national security purposes,” Smith states.

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