New Snowden Revelations: How Microsoft Handed the NSA Access to Encrypted Messages


(by Anthony Freda via wendydavis @

I know the front page will pick this up soon, but I thought you’d want to read about it now.  We have a good friend due in about fifteen minutes to spend the night, so I doubt I’ll be able to make it to the comment thread.  One of the zingers promised by Glenzilla, I reckon.   ;~)

From the Guardian, some copy/paste again:

• Secret files show scale of Silicon Valley co-operation on Prism
• encryption unlocked even before official launch
• Skype worked to enable Prism collection of video calls
• Company says it is legally compelled to comply

Microsoft has collaborated closely with US intelligence services to allow users’ communications to be intercepted, including helping the National Security Agency to circumvent the company’s own encryption, according to top-secret documents obtained by the Guardian.

The files provided by Edward Snowden illustrate the scale of co-operation between Silicon Valley and the intelligence agencies over the last three years. They also shed new light on the workings of the top-secret Prism program, which was disclosed by the Guardian and the Washington Post last month.

The documents show that:

• Microsoft helped the NSA to circumvent its encryption to address concerns that the agency would be unable to intercept web chats on the new portal;

• The agency already had pre-encryption stage access to email on, 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 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”.

The files show that the NSA became concerned about the interception of encrypted chats on Microsoft’s portal from the moment the company began testing the service in July last year.

Within five months, the documents explain, Microsoft and the FBI had come up with a solution that allowed the NSA to circumvent encryption on chats

A newsletter entry dated 26 December 2012 states: “MS [Microsoft], working with the FBI, developed a surveillance capability to deal” with the issue. “These solutions were successfully tested and went live 12 Dec 2012.”

Two months later, in February this year, Microsoft officially launched the portal.


The secret documents seem to make a mockery of Microsoft’s declarations that they provided customer data “only in response to government demands and we only ever comply with orders for requests about specific accounts or identifiers”.  Lots more there at the Guardian, of course.

(Hello, Generals Alexander and Clapper; hope you’re havin’ a nice day.)

And to Bill Gates: may your teeth and hair fall out soon, you scurvy so-and-so.  I want my money back!  How’s your Monsanto stock doin’, anyway?  A little stock tip for ya, darlin’:  sell your shares of Microsoft.  We hear they’re due to slip a bit soon (Insider Advice).  Tradin’ at 35.6850 at the moment.

This Guardian page on Microsoft articles looks so much more disgusting now, eh?

Just got another email from Cecilia Muñoz, The White House with a subject line: Don’t let this get lost in the hubbub (text field was blank again.  another Freudian slip?)

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