Caspar Bowden, a former Microsoft chief privacy officer, said during a conference in Switzerland that he’s having a hard time trusting the company after news broke of the role that Microsoft and other tech companies played in the U.S. National Security Agency’s surveillance efforts.
The Guardian story, which says Bowden has not carried a mobile phone for the past few years and now uses only open source software, quotes him as saying, “I don’t trust Microsoft now.”
The report, which does not get into specifics of what Bowden doesn’t trust about Microsoft’s technology, quotes Bowden further about his distrust of the NSA’s broad surveillance power.
Microsoft sent a statement in response to that report, saying: “We believe greater transparency on the part of governments – including the US government — would help the community understand the facts and better debate these important issues. That’s why we’ve taken a number of steps to try and secure permission, including filing legal action with the US government.”
Microsoft and other large tech companies have come under fire for their role in U.S. national security surveillance.
But the companies say they have handed over customer data to the U.S. government only by court order or subpoena.
Microsoft’s general counsel, Brad Smith, added in a recent blog post that the company “does not provide any government with direct and unfettered access to our customer’s data,” that the company responds only to requests for specific accounts and identifiers, and that the company reviews all such requests.
Microsoft and several other tech companies also have petitioned the U.S. government to allow them to be more transparent about the national surveillance orders it gets under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The companies are forbidden from even disclosing specifically how many orders they get under FISA.