Microsoft has opened on its Redmond campus the first of what it calls “Transparency Centers”– places where the company can show local governments what it’s doing to keep their data secure and to reassure them that they are not providing back-door channels for snooping from, say, the U.S. government.
“Our Transparency Centers provide participating governments with the ability to review source code for our key products, assure themselves of their software integrity, and confirm there are no ‘back doors,'” Matt Thomlinson, Microsoft’s vice president of trustworthy computing security, wrote in a blog post today.
The issue is pressing for Microsoft and other U.S. tech companies that do business globally. They say they are losing business from foreign customers who are wary of trusting their data to U.S. companies, after whistleblower Edward Snowden’s revelations of the U.S. National Security Agency’s surveillance program involving tech companies such as Microsoft, Google and Yahoo.
Since those surveillance programs were revealed last year, the tech companies have been fighting back, lobbying Congress to put limits on the government’s surveillance activities, battling in court to be allowed to release more information on national security requests, and increasing encryption on their services. Recently, Microsoft has been fighting in court to resist a U.S. search warrant for customer emails held in one of its data centers overseas.
Microsoft announced in January that it would be opening several Transparency Centers, in Brussels and other locations around the world.
The company also said today that it’s strengthened encryption to its Outlook.com and OneDrive services.