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.
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;
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;
If I target for example an email address, for example under FAA 702, and that email address sent something to you, Joe America, the analyst gets it. All of it. IPs, raw data, content, headers, attachments, everything. And it gets saved for a very long time — and can be extended further with waivers rather than warrants.
US Persons do enjoy limited policy protections (and again, it's important to understand that policy protection is no protection — policy is a one-way ratchet that only loosens) and one very weak technical protection — a near-the-front-end filter at our ingestion points. The filter is constantly out of date, is set at what is euphemistically referred to as the "widest allowable aperture," and can be stripped out at any time. Even with the filter, US comms get ingested, and even more so as soon as they leave the border.
"The pathology is to want control, not that you ever get it, because of course you never do." -- Gregory Bateson