Microsoft has denied allegations that it offered U.S. intelligence agencies unrestricted access to customer’s data.
The company’s general counsel & exec VP of corporate affairs Brad Smith said in a statement that the reports contained “significant inaccuracies,” and that U.S. government lawyers have denied it permission to address the allegations.
“Today we have asked the Attorney General of the United States to personally take action to permit Microsoft and other companies to share publicly more complete information about how we handle national security requests for customer information,” Smith said. “We believe the U.S. Constitution guarantees our freedom to share more information with the public, yet the Government is stopping us,” he added, saying the government is yet to respond to requests filed June 19 for permission to discuss the “volume of national security requests we have received.
“There are significant inaccuracies in the interpretations of leaked government documents reported in the media last week. We have asked the Government again for permission to discuss the issues raised by these new documents, and our request was denied by government lawyers,” he added.
“Microsoft does not provide any government with direct and unfettered access to our customer’s data. Microsoft only pulls and then provides the specific data mandated by the relevant legal demand,” Smith continued. “If a government wants customer data – including for national security purposes – it needs to follow applicable legal process, meaning it must serve us with a court order for content or subpoena for account information.
“We only respond to requests for specific accounts and identifiers. There is no blanket or indiscriminate access to Microsoft’s customer data. The aggregate data we have been able to publish shows clearly that only a tiny fraction – fractions of a percent – of our customers have ever been subject to a government demand related to criminal law or national security,” he concluded.
With the Xbox One set to have a greater online presence and Skype-powered party chat it’s good to hear Microsoft officially clarify the situation, to help put any fears to bed.