It has been one year since Edward Snowden pulled back the black curtain and showed what the NSA is doing to collect data and since then, the world has demanded that the US government stop its massive surveillance efforts. Microsoft, one of many companies targeted by the NSA, has been openly pushing back since the revelations and has come forward, once again, to pressure the US government into changing its policies.
In a post on the “Microsoft on the Issues” blog, Microsoft’s General Counsel and Executive Vice President, Brad Smith, penned a lengthy post about reforms that the company - and many others - believe should be implemented.
For starters, there is the assertion that US search warrants should end at US borders, meaning that the US should not be able to force Microsoft to reveal information on servers that are hosted in other countries. They would also like an end to the bulk data collection that is currently taking place, although Microsoft says that it has never actually received a request for this type of information.
Crucially, Microsoft is asking the NSA to not hack data centers or cables that lead to and from these centers. While Microsoft believes that its encryption should now take care of these types of attacks, it never hurts to ask, right?
There are also a couple of other requests such as reforms to the FISA court and increased transparency, but the key here is that Microsoft will continue to push the government by lobbying for these, and other, changes. Given that Microsoft has quite a bit of power as a company and a checkbook to match, it certainly has plenty of influence to help ensure that Congress gives these proposals the attention that they deserve.
The post is rather bold in its assertions but that’s exactly what needs to be done if the company hopes to make any changes at a policy level. While we don't expect changes overnight, a continuous push from large organizations like Microsoft is the best way to get things done in Washington, DC.
While Microsoft certainly has its own reasons for wanting these changes, if any of them can be implemented, the effect will have repercussions across the entire industry.