Backdoor Bill Gates builds bypasses for NSA's benefit

The Guardian yesterday released another revelation from the trove of top secret documents leaked by whistle-blower Edward Snowden. Not to be outdone by Google and other tech titans’ participation in the illegal NSA wiretapping program codenamed PRISM, Microsoft was revealed to have actually built software to be more compliant with NSA and FBI eavesdropping.

According to new revelations, Microsoft took numerous steps to assist the CIA, FBI and NSA in gathering information on its customers in what the NSA document refers to as a “team sport.” Microsoft engineered its popular webmail service Outlook and it's prior incarnation Hotmail to provide the NSA with pre-encryption access.

Additionally, Microsoft allowed the NSA backdoor access into its web based chat program after the agency was concerned that they would not be able to bypass the encryption and read millions of people's conversations as they were happening. This capability validates Snowden's previous statements that he could “watch your thoughts form as you type them.”

Microsoft also worked with the FBI to allow PRISM better access to its cloud storage service SkyDrive, which is used by 250 million people worldwide, including many corporate customers. It's not clear if PRISM's access to SkyDrive is part of the NSA's pattern of corporate spying to give commercial advantage to American companies.

Nine months ago, Microsoft bought Skype. Although Skype had been part of the PRISM program since 2010, the amount of data collected tripled since Microsoft purchased it, according to the leaked documents. According to this time line published by Slate, Skype began its cooperation with spy agencies as early as 2008. Skype has an estimated 663 million users worldwide.

The Guardian's revelations in June showed clearly that the companies involved had provided direct access to their user's data for NSA spying. The tech titans uniformly denied this and then asked the federal government for permission to be more transparent. Microsoft's denials that they had provided the NSA with direct access continued today in a statement provided to the Columbus Free Press by their long time public relations firm, Waggener Edstrom.

The statement, which we were told is attributable to an unnamed Microsoft spokesperson read in part “To be clear, Microsoft does not provide any government with blanket or direct access to SkyDrive,, Skype or any Microsoft product.” This statement appears to be completely at odds with the Guardian's reporting. Follow up questions to Waggener Edstrom inquiring as to whether or not Microsoft is contemplating legal action against any news outlet for libel in American or British courts were not returned by press time although their staffer, Ronnie Martin, assured the Free Press that answers would be forthcoming.

The Free Press made inquiries to better understand the nature of Microsoft's apparently gleeful cooperation with the domestic spying apparatus. Specifically we wished to know if Microsoft had been paid for all its hard work on behalf of America's Stasi and if they had merely complied with illegal court orders. The Microsoft statement did not address the question of payment in any way and further denied the company went the extra mile to patriotically help the NSA “...we only ever comply with orders about specific accounts or identifiers, and we would not respond to the kind of blanket orders discussed in the press over the past few weeks,...”

The statement provided by Microsoft matched the one provided to the Guardian yesterday word for word.

From the public statements of all these giants of Silicon Valley, it would appear as though some secret court ruling or executive order constrains them from telling the whole truth. A compliant corporate medi has yet to hold them to account for the apparent disconnect between the Snowden revelations and their public statements. The Columbus Free Press will never be compliant or corporate.

Date Originally Published: 
Friday, July 12, 2013
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