The Guardian reveals how software companies secretly gave access to the NSA to their customers’ information. What is revealed includes things such as:
- Microsoft helped the NSA to circumvent its encryption to address concerns that the agency would be unable to intercept web chats on the new Outlook.com portal;
- The agency already had pre-encryption stage access to email on Outlook.com, including Hotmail;
- The company worked with the FBI this year to allow the NSA easier access via Prism to its cloud storage service SkyDrive, which now has more than 250 million users worldwide;
- Microsoft also worked with the FBI’s Data Intercept Unit to “understand” potential issues with a feature in Outlook.com that allows users to create email aliases;
- In July last year, nine months after Microsoft bought Skype, the NSA boasted that a new capability had tripled the amount of Skype video calls being collected through Prism;
- Material collected through Prism is routinely shared with the FBI and CIA, with one NSA document describing the program as a “team sport”.
These revelations contradict the companies’ efforts to separate themselves from the NSA.
Since Prism’s existence became public, Microsoft and the other companies listed on the NSA documents as providers have denied all knowledge of the program and insisted that the intelligence agencies do not have back doors into their systems.
But internal NSA newsletters, marked top secret, suggest the co-operation between the intelligence community and the companies is deep and ongoing.
Meanwhile Oliver Stone and the ACLU have teamed up to create an ad warning about the dangers of the NSA surveillance programs.