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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Microsoft Puts Pressure on American Government over Surveillance

It’s been a year since the first Snowden revelations about the NSA surveillance, and the software giant has finally unleashed its nastiest lobbying hounds into Washington to request for reform. Media reports say that Microsoft is demanding that the US search warrants should end at the country’s borders.

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Microsoft faces problem overseas, because foreign countries, especially China, don’t like the US government’s surveillance methods through US companies. Microsoft claimed that the government should better address important unfinished business in order to reduce the technology trust deficit it has built. The software giant is concerned about the US government’s efforts to use search warrants to try and force the companies to disclose the contents of communications of overseas customers which are stored abroad.

Edward Snowden revealed that the government intercepted information in transit across the worldwide web and hacked links between company data centers. This move could literally kill off the chance of the United States to make any impact in the lucrative Cloud trade.

In the meantime, Microsoft is not the only company which threatens to cut off the country’s politicians political funding. Other tech giants, including Cisco Systems, are also jolly cross. Cisco penned a stiffly worded letter to Barack Obama last month, asking for his intervention so that the technology business of the United States wasn’t hit by a loss of trust from customers all over the world thanks to reports of NSA surveillance.

This letter was written after the publication of reports on how the National Security Agency physically intercepted network equipment and planted surveillance tools before repackaging the devices with a factory seal. These devices were then sent to international customers.

So far 8 tech giants, including Microsoft, Google, Facebook and Yahoo, have asked for a reform of government surveillance legislation and practices all over the world. The corporations are sitting on shedloads of lobby dollars which the politicians definitely need.

American politicians don’t really seem to understand the risk they are facing. Last month, they watered down the USA Freedom Act – this basically meant the spooks can continue to do what they like. While Microsoft pointed out that it never received an order related to mass collection of online information, the company believes the USA Freedom Act should be strengthened in order to prohibit more clearly similar orders in the future.

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