Marking the one year anniversary of the NSA leaks saga, Microsoft today called for broad change in how the United States Government and its intelligence agencies operate, and what they collect.
Microsoft is not alone among technology companies in calling for reform. Its blog post today, however, is interesting given its breadth and specificity.
The company wants the government to end bulk collection of phone records in the United States, and states the USA FREEDOM Act should be “strengthened to prohibit” the “bulk collection of Internet data.” Also, the FISA Court needs to be reformed, in its view, to increase transparency and also to “introduce the adversarial process that is the hallmark of a fair judicial system.”
Microsoft goes on to demand that the United States Government stop abusing warrants to force data out of companies when that data is stored overseas. The company is challenging that on legal grounds, planning an appeal of its case after an expected first loss.
Finally, the company demands that the government stop hacking data centers. Its own language is worth repeating here:
Commit not to hack data centers or cables: We believe our efforts to expand encryption across our services make it much harder for any government to successfully hack data in transit or at rest. Yet more than seven months after the Washington Post first reported that the National Security Agency hacked systems outside the U.S. to access data held by Yahoo! and Google, the Executive Branch remains silent about its views of this practice. Shouldn’t a government that prosecutes foreigners who hack into U.S. companies stop its own employees from hacking into such businesses? Why must we continue to wait for an assurance on this issue?
Google and Yahoo were less than pleased when the program tapping the cables between their data centers in Europe was disclosed. Yahoo, Google, Microsoft, and other technology companies have taken action to encrypt more of their data to prevent the NSA from easily collecting and sifting through it. (Of course, the NSA has worked to weaken encryption.)
It’s good of Microsoft to publicly call down the government on its failure to reform and rein in the NSA thus far. And its comments undercutting the USA FREEDOM Act as too weak could help Congress reform the reform.