Microsoft, a trojan horse?

The latest release of the Snowden files published today by the Guardian, “Revealed: how Microsoft handed the NSA access to encrypted messages“, show the extent that Microsoft (and subsidiary Skype) have been collaborating with the NSA. Giving access to encrypted emails, video calls, cloud storage and presumably anything else they wanted. Microsofts defence is that they were legally compelled; completely forgetting the fourth amendment which reads:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

I’m not a lawyer but the FISA court warrants authorising the collection of the data did not specify the person being searched or what the probable cause was; therefore unconstitutional. I’m happy to be corrected in the comments section 🙂

Given more civilians are killed in countries participating in Prism by the police than terrorists you might be forgiven for thinking the blanket analysis and perpetual storage of every private communication is a little disproportionate. An explanation is that the data gathered is being used for more than the prevention of terrorist attacks.

A possibility is that the American government has been monitoring global communications as a mass act of industrial espionage, to gain an advantage from both its allies and enemies alike. This is just a theory but if you’re responsible for a business outside of the US are you happy that the IT your using could be being used to share your intellectual property, gauge your negotiating position (as the US/UK have done in trade negotiations), gain the contact details of prospective clients?

Imagine the advantage a politically well connected US bank would have over its German or British counterpart simply because they’re naively using their competitors national office software and email programs (Outlook/Hotmail). Likewise could an Airbus PowerPoint sales pitch be used to Boeings advantage?

It might now be time to seriously consider installing one of the many easy to use Linux distributions such as Ubuntu, Linux Mint, or Trisquel all of which can be downloaded for FREE and burnt to a DVD for install. All include a LibreOffice which functions in a very similar way to MS Office 2007 (no ribbons).

Send your iPhone messages via Wickr, and short: MSFT, GOOG, AAPL, YHOO

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3 thoughts on “Microsoft, a trojan horse?

  1. I seem to remember reading something years ago about NSA intercepts being used to give Boeing an advantage over Airbus when bidding for aircraft sales to a US airline. So, yes I am sure that PRISM will be/is being used for industrial espionage.

    I would also expect that in due course this data will be used to enforce tax collection. Imagine how easy it must be for the US government to cross reference people’s online spending habits with their tax returns to generate target lists for the IRS (or whoever). In an age of shrinking tax revenue for governments around the world, that has to be a very temping target!

    • There have been numerous cases of large corporates (HP, Deutsche Bank, British Airways et el) engaging in industrial espionage on their own, Im sure the opportunity to work with a sovereign partner like the NSA/GCHQ/BND/etc.. would be a dream for most.

      However, this could now backfire in a major way as Microsoft, Google and Apple products all appear to be compromised and any business exec should be asking their IT department about alternatives.

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