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Microsoft's Cooperation With NSA Either Voluntary, Or Reveals New Legal Tactic

timothy posted 1 year,16 days | from the man-in-the-middle-attack dept.

Privacy 193

holy_calamity writes "When Microsoft re-engineered its online services to assist NSA surveillance programs, the company was either acting voluntarily, or under a new kind of court order, reports MIT Technology Review. Existing laws were believed to shelter companies from being forced to modify their systems to aid surveillance, but experts say the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court may now have a new interpretation. Microsoft's statement about its cooperation with NSA surveillance doesn't make it clear whether it acted under legal duress, or simply decided that to helping out voluntarily was in its best interest."

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US considered hostile (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44269021)

Don't use US services.

Re: US considered hostile (-1)

stewsters (1406737) | 1 year,16 days | (#44269047)

Don't get microshafted.

Re: US considered hostile (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44269195)

The NSA gets their access one way or another they can either come in with a court order and mess with your systems (or whoever s system is above yours) them selves, or you can try to come to some kind of agreement. It's a fucked up situation and the parent post is right, only when they start loosing money and respect will you see any results. not just ms mind you if you think all your gmail and iwhatever is impervious your blissfully ignorant (which is another valid option i guess).

Re: US considered hostile (0)

Joce640k (829181) | 1 year,16 days | (#44269711)

Are terrorists really that dumb??? (4, Interesting)

ulatekh (775985) | 1 year,16 days | (#44269905)

I'm sorry, but I'm not buying the primary argument here — that this level of surveillance is necessary in order to catch terrorists. (Never mind that it took this scandal leaking for Obama to actually say "terrorists" [] .)

Are terrorists actually stupid enough to communicate using public services like this? You'd think that, at the very least, they'd be using Tor [] , or their own private equivalents. More likely than not, they're not even communicating electronically; Bin Laden communicated with the outside world through a very non-electronic trusted courier.

It seems to me that their argument is a red herring — that their real purpose is surveilling us, for partisan/corrupt purposes. Witness the harassment of Tea Party groups by the IRS, journalists by the Attorney General, and the NYPD's abuse of that data [] .

The demise of an empire (5, Insightful)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | 1 year,16 days | (#44269205)

As an American, as an American who loves my country, I need to have the courage to face the reality --- that my country has ceased to be the land of the free, the home of the braves, but has turned into an empire which is moving towards oblivion

Re:The demise of an empire (3, Interesting)

j_l_cgull (129101) | 1 year,16 days | (#44269273)

"...that my country has ceased to be the land of the free, the home of the braves *..."

* Offer valid untill Sept, 11, 2001

Everything has an expiration date, need to read the fine print to find them.

Re:The demise of an empire (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44269685)

Windows 8.2.

"Who have you been sold to lately?"

Re:The demise of an empire (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44269415)

Actually, as a German who knows the USA well: No it hasn't.

A very small group of people are like that. Most Americans aren't. They have just become apathetic in the face of an imaginary "insurmountable reality".

That is the art of intelligence agencies and social engineering (and churches btw.). It's all in your head... but to *you* it's hard reality. And that's all that counts.

Our Nazis also were just a small group of very loud and very confident assholes, and a huge apathetic mass around them.

So the war is fought in your heads. Starting with your own and those of your friends. All it actually really takes to change everything and take everything evil down, is changing your beliefs (and making sure they're not delusional) and having enough public confidence to make others change theirs too.
The rest is a result of the self-fulfilling prophecy.

The evil ones got in power that way... and they get out of power that way.

I think you and most Americans still actually are "land of the free, home of the brave" Americans. And from now on, you will trust yourselves again.

Re:The demise of an empire (4)

mr_shifty (202071) | 1 year,16 days | (#44269653)

Thank you, for this.

Re:The demise of an empire (2)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44269677)

Our Nazis also were just a small group of very loud and very confident assholes, and a huge apathetic mass around them.

That's a popular German fiction. In fact, the Nazis were democratically elected and hugely popular.

Re:The demise of an empire (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44269809)

The communists were promising much the same, and for a time they were equally popular. They also had extreme nationalism, IIRC without so much of the racial shit. The anti-corporate philosophy, was there to garner the support of the regular man, though. The state is going to take care of you! Much the same as in Russia. It was either going to be Nazis or Commies.

Hitler's propaganda machine was thoroughly vetted by the time he rose to office, so it's no surprise they were popular. It just so happened that he was a better orator and more charismatic than his opponents. Besides, it wasn't until after the Reichstag fire a few weeks after his election, that anyone really could see he would start making true on his promises.

Re:The demise of an empire (2)

ericloewe (2129490) | 1 year,16 days | (#44269975)

Not quite. Hitler wasn't elected chancellor, he was appointed by the (mostly senile) president as the idiot chosen to be controlled from the backstage by a group of bigger idiots who thought it'd be a good idea.

(The Naxi party had been slowly rising in successive parliamentary elections - they happened every few months - at the time this happened. It had seen greater growth before.)

As for hugely popular, that is a matter that is still debated.

Re:The demise of an empire (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44270053)

THAT is popular fiction from somebody who neither understands the German mentality nor psychology.

Germans are a bit blind followers. We still are, today. In that aspect, nothing has changed. We are like a huge white tampon, soaking up every strong, loud and confident opinion. Put a drop of blood on there, and the whole thing goes red. Ditto for yellow or brown. ;)
Best of all: We still hold our old (non-colored) opinion. But in private. Maybe even among our friends. But in open public among strangers, or when we're voting, we do what we think society expects us to do. Even if it actually doesn't at all.
This is really funny to watch when a political candidate comes to town. If we are physically close to him, suddenly we fully agree with him. Especially with a camera or microphone close by. Not 10 seconds later, among peers, off camera, we start telling everyone how shit we really think he is and that nobody should ever vote for him.

The main purpose of this, as we Germans say, is that otherwise we wouldn't have anything to complain about anymore. And we *love* complaining. Most of our population consists of "get off my lawn"-style old people. Except even if they're 30.
And we complain, so we can feel better about ourselves. No, it's not us. It's not our job. *They* did everything wrong. Bitch, bitch, bitch...

It's a very subtle German thing.

Re:The demise of an empire (4, Insightful)

Common Joe (2807741) | 1 year,16 days | (#44269745)


Counter deal from an American living in Germany:

We Americans will work on this with the rest of Europe. When the U.S. does something stupid... say like forcing presidential planes to be put in danger and then searched [] , you slap the living shit out of the people requesting it and hold them up high so we can make examples of them.

Re:The demise of an empire (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44269751)

Internet high-five, my German brother. Well said.

Re:The demise of an empire (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44269955)

Thank you very, very much.

Re:The demise of an empire (1)

seyyah (986027) | 1 year,16 days | (#44269617)

As an American, as an American who loves my country, I need to have the courage to face the reality --- that my country has ceased to be the land of the free, the home of the braves, but has turned into an empire which is moving towards oblivion.

This is a genuine question - not rhetorical... and not just to you.

How did the self-perception of the US as "land of the free" and not being a European-style empire ever jive with the possession of overseas territories without equal voting rights?

As an outsider, it seemed that the principles on which the US was founded could not be easily reconciled once it started picking up its own "colonies".

Re:The demise of an empire (1)

MasterOfMagic (151058) | 1 year,16 days | (#44269687)

As an outsider, it seemed that the principles on which the US was founded could not be easily reconciled once it started picking up its own "colonies".

It could not be reconciled from the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness

All men are created equal, except for non-land owners, slaves, Native Americans who could not vote and were discriminated against. Let's also not forget women, who couldn't vote in most states until the 1920s.

Re:The demise of an empire (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44269867)

Native Americans are members of Sovereign Nations, as such they really shouldn't be voting NOW. This is evidenced by the fact that they have treaties with the US Government, the entire way Native Americans are dealt with is insane, and inconsistent. However, it does not support the facts you are trying to support.

Secondly, the issue with slaves was a compromise to get the Constitution ratified. Without that compromise there would never have been a nation OR a civil war. Again, this does not support your implied point.

Third Point, Women's suffrage was a worldwide phenomenon and as such does not prove the point you are looking to prove.

Thank You!

Re:The demise of an empire (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44269963)

I agree, the manifest destiny thing got a bit out of hand.

However, the modern five commonwealths we maintain actually vote against becoming part of the union when the subject comes up. This would buy them full representation in Congress, where as they only get to participate in committee matters right now, but they appear to be content being what they are.

Hawaii (and Alaska) came into the union in 1959, so gaining another star is not unheard of. It'd sure give the Chinese flag makers a fit, as millions of new flags are ordered. That much is for sure. Realistically, that would be the biggest change.

Re:The demise of an empire (5, Interesting)

MasterOfMagic (151058) | 1 year,16 days | (#44269669)

As an American who loves my country, I need to have the courage to face the reality --- that my country has ceased to be the land of the free, the home of the braves, but has turned into an empire which is moving towards oblivion

Not to be too glib, but the braves died out long ago under the watch of Andrew Jackson.

I have a serious question for you: why do you love your country? I can understand why one could love the ideals that your country was founded upon as they are beautiful. I can understanding wanting to get involved in politics to try and steer the country in a direction that you think is better than where it is now. Why a love of country, especially a country that has been doing immoral things for quite some time?

The last moral war the US fought, in my estimation, was World War II. It was declared by Congress, and the entire nation sacrificed for it. There was a draft. People left their comfortable jobs and went off to defend the world against tyranny, oppression, and genocide. There was a defined end goal.

Korea certainly did not fit that bill. Our entrance into Vietnam was based on lies. Beruit was Reagan trying to take the focus off Iran-Contra. The First Iraq War was based on lies and oil. Afghanistan was perhaps justified (though by no means moral, in my estimation). The Second Iraq War was also based on lies and oil.

The CIA has a track record of overthrowing democratically elected leaders if they judge them not in the best interests of the US. Remember the Iraninan hostage crisis? That was a response to the CIA reinstalling the Shah. Remember Saddam Hussein? The US put him in power.

Ever since the creation of the NSA and Hoover's reign at the FBI there has been spying on American citizens. Do not think that PRISM is new. The intelligence agencies have been making incremental gains towards it since the Red Scare. The biggest gain of all was convincing the public that CALEA compliance was important (that is, remote, digitally tappable equipment providing both voice and data flowing over the lines).

So, given all of that, why do you love your country?

Re:The demise of an empire (1, Interesting)

ericloewe (2129490) | 1 year,16 days | (#44269985)

Last time I checked, the Korean war was the result of a North Korean invasion of South Korea, not some random US expansionist move.

Re:The demise of an empire (1)

stenvar (2789879) | 1 year,16 days | (#44269721)

that my country has ceased to be the land of the free

Please tell me: when was it ever that ideal place? When Japanese-Americans were interned? When Nixon spied on his political opponents? When we had separate-but-equal? When McCarthyism was rampant? Annoying and stupid as the NSA surveillance is, it's nothing new, and it nowhere near as bad as many of the things that happened in the past. And it will get addressed.

Re:The demise of an empire (3)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | 1 year,16 days | (#44269847)

As an American, as an American who loves my country, I need to have the courage to face the reality --- that my country has ceased to be the land of the free, the home of the braves, but has turned into an empire which is moving towards oblivion

I think part of the problem here in the US is the increasing polarization and narrow-mindedness of politics and and the political process. For example, I personally know someone who said they agreed with most of the platform of a Democratic candidate, but simply could not vote for that person because the candidate supported abortion rights. (Guys, until we get a uterus, it's none of our business and unless it's your uterus, it still none of your business.) Another is the Tea Party that wants austerity at all costs ("fuck the poor" they chant from their Medicare-paid electric wheel chairs - okay, I'm paraphrasing). Can't let illegal immigrants get citizenship, even if it would add $11 Trillion to the tax rolls over a decade, because we have to punish them for sneaking into our country to cut our lawns and pick our fruit.

I understand that everyone has causes that are important to them, and some are more important than others, but "We The People" and especially our Representatives, would be better off if we focused on what's important for the Country, State, City, Individual - in that order. We are stronger as a whole of disparate parts working together, than as individuals just out for ourselves, as are our hopes and ideals.

Give me your tired, your poor
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free

Re:The demise of an empire (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | 1 year,16 days | (#44269925)

that my country has ceased to be the land of the free, the home of the braves

What's that?! Are you trying to suggest that the Atlanta Braves have moved to Canada????

Re:US considered hostile (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44269219)

Who is the sovereign in this country? Some secret court?

Re: US considered hostile (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44269403)

Like Visa or MasterCard?

Don't use Microsoft (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44269527)

Remember Microsoft already own a back door into every windows box - they call it "software update" - com patch Tuesday maybe you get something different from everyone else should the NSA want a peek - that's the problem with closed source code - who do you trust?

This will backfire bad (3, Interesting)

CuteSteveJobs (1343851) | 1 year,16 days | (#44269571)

Chinese backdoors. US backdoors. Aussie backdoors. Not just government, you can't even trust the companies you pay to look after you. Can anyone be trusted? Everyone will now encrypt the shit out of everything making it easier for the next bin Laden and perverts to hide their crimes.

Re:US considered hostile (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44269649)

Don't use US services.

You also have to remember to avoid UK services as well, GCHQ has been caught wiretapping some major backbones around there too.

Also worth point out, once you find a Non-US - Non-UK - Non-CA - Non-AU - Non-NZ service, remember to use end-2-end encryption, avoid using SSL certificates too as the NSA could have a copy for the site you're visiting rendering ALL your traffic readable.

Re:US considered hostile (1)

gmuslera (3436) | 1 year,16 days | (#44269901)

You can use SSL certificates with perfect forward secrecy [] . If well is not that perfect [] , is an improvement.

Microsoft is a business. (2)

Rockoon (1252108) | 1 year,16 days | (#44269031)

Businesses dont go out of their way to increase their costs with no tangible benefit. There is either a tangible benefit (Quid pro quo) or it was the best of a group of bad options (not doing it will cost us more.)

I don't see what the NSA/FISA has to offer in return, so its probably being done due to a threat, and at that point you have to wonder what other companies are also doing for the same reason.

Re:Microsoft is a business. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44269049)

I don't see what the NSA/FISA has to offer in return, so its probably being done due to a threat...

Millions of $$$ in software licences perhaps

Let's tally (4, Insightful)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | 1 year,16 days | (#44269275)

Nowadays anything and everything that are related to NSA has been condemned to death by a million cuts.

But we do need to tally up what has actually transpired to the American society BEFORE Mr. Edward Snowden decided to break his silence of the terrible truth ...

The American society before the Snowden era was already a very damaged and trouble society.

The United States of America, as a nation, has already become very heavily debt-ridden, and that the rights of the average Americans has already been greatly reduced by patent-trolls and the copyright-MAFIAA-trolls.

Taken as a whole, NSA is but one of the many players with the nefarous intentions to decimate the Rights of the average Americans as guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States of America.

I am not defending NSA, but I have to be fair.

It ***IS*** the system itself, which the government of the United States of America is but a part of it, that is behind the destruction of the Spirit of Americana.

They allowed, hmm... no, they ENCOURAGED the HUMONGOUS CORPORATIONS to encroach into our rights (via patents and copyrights), and they actively fanned phobia against "gun violence" / "terrorism" in order to expediting the destruction of the Bill of Rights.

But the most important aspect of all is this --- that the American people have failed to rise up against the system.

We have become a people who no longer care about our own Constitutions.

Instead of being proud Americans who will fight for liberty and justice for all, we have become the timid Americans who will sacrifice anyting in order to secure a place inside the "safety cocoon" prepared for us, by our Great Leader.

The true "1984" had arrived, and it had arrived 29 years later than as was promised.

Re:Let's tally (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44269581)

NSA = Nation of Secure Americans

Re:Let's tally (1)

gmuslera (3436) | 1 year,16 days | (#44269937)

Then it should be called NSAR = Nation of Secure American Rulers. Because the (true) rulers of America are the ones safe with them.

Re:Microsoft is a business. (1)

gl4ss (559668) | 1 year,16 days | (#44269063)

oh they do get to bill them for the surveillance.

but the point is more about that they can be told to do it without mentioning there is a court order.

Re:Microsoft is a business. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44269167)

I don't see what the NSA/FISA has to offer in return, so its probably being done due to a threat, and at that point you have to wonder what other companies are also doing for the same reason.

In exchange, they get their share of stolen data in order to compete against other (probably mostly foreign) companies. That data can be used to win orders in a bidding competition, for example, and to get previews of planned production models and other strategic information. Don't think for a second that MS would not offer their eager help for that kind of intel.

See [] for reference. Bit old, though.

Holy cow Antitrust (the movie) was right (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44269481)

Basically the Microsoft company (obviously pretending it's MS) in the movie is spying on open source coders and stealing their work. Once they figure it out people start getting murdered and end up in danger.

Essentially the same plot, except in this case the movie's MS didn't have full government CIA/NSA backing.... Now that movie *is* scary.

Re:Holy cow Antitrust (the movie) was right (1)

gmuslera (3436) | 1 year,16 days | (#44269981)

Not the open source, but the closed source ones. You know, no privacy implies no meaning of intellectual property, they could steal private code, projects, ideas, songs, etc even before they get published, if ever, and give them to their protegees (i.e. Microsoft) so they can patent, copyright, trademark or whatever the work of others, and effectively steal (as opposed of making a non destructive copy) intellectual property, as the original author won't be able to use it ever. That it comes from the main pusher of international intellectual property laws and treaties makes it worse.

Re:Microsoft is a business. (2)

TheP4st (1164315) | 1 year,16 days | (#44269209)

I don't see what the NSA/FISA has to offer in return

Intelligence on non-US competitors, intelligence on the EU commissioner of competition and so forth. There is plenty of very high financial and strategic value that the NSA could offer in return. Whether doing so would be legal or not is a different story altogether, but it's not like the NSA allow pesky little details as legality get in their way.

Re:Microsoft is a business. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44269785)

but it's not like the NSA allow pesky little details as legality get in their way

Well, that comes with its own consequences, does the EU really want to do trade with a country known to be hostile by spying on their corporations? think about it. They have valid reason to be PISSED at this news, and Germany may well be leading the way here. Good for them.

Re:Microsoft is a business. (1)

mcgrew (92797) | 1 year,16 days | (#44269243)

I always thought it was odd that after the DoJ kicking MS's ass in court that the incoming Bush administration would pretty much let them off scott-free.

Pretty good guess as to why now.

I have to get off my lazy butt and get Linux on this notebook now...

Re:Microsoft is a business. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44269599)

Yeah, put Linux on it.
For your reading amusement during the installation:

Neil Ziring: Technical Director, NSA Information Assurance Directorate
Al Holt: Technical Director, NTOC, NSA
Terry Sherryl: DISA FSO
David A. Waltermire: Security Content Automation Protocol (SCAP) Architect, NIST

It's weird that no one on /. seems to be curious if a corporation that is a leading contributor of OSS sofware with over a billion in revenues each year and a cozy relationship to the US defense sector has been pressured, like Microsoft, to put in backdoors/exploitable vulnerabilites into the Linux kernel or any of their other products. Yes, it's open source, but who audits the code? Supposedly each commit is signed off by another kernel dev. However, in most cases you have one developer signing off on commits of another developer from the same organization. Most times its just rubber-stamp procedure. Given that Linux is used across the world, it seems highly unlikely that the US government would only put pressure on proprietary software and services companies to comply with its demands to make their products easier for them to bypass?

Re: RedHat != Linux (2)

xiando (770382) | 1 year,16 days | (#44269917)

I agree that one should question RedHat and a few other GNU/Linux distributions. Luckily we do not have to use RedHat if we choose to use GNU/Linux, there are many other variants. NSA may have a harder time getting their backdoors into Debian / Ubuntu than they have with RH, but there are questions there too. Anyone remember that "mistake" in Debians OpenSSL code which made it generate useless certificates for years without anyone noticing? As for the kernel itself.. I don't see it as likely that anyone would manage to put a backdoor in there. But it's open source, so you can I can and should take a look. Overall, I'd say you are much better off using Linux than Windows.

Re:Microsoft is a business. (1)

gmuslera (3436) | 1 year,16 days | (#44269999)

An open code (with reviewers on it) means that is at least hard that a backdoor sneaks in. In closed source software you must "trust" in the vendor to not include it (and this story is about a particular one, clearly not deserving any trust), as is even forbidden by law to reverse engineering software to see if it have backdoors or is spyware. in open source you have all the code, and more important, they have it too, they could check if there isnt backdoors from others too. They would be dumb if they are all attack and no defense.

Re:Microsoft is a business. (2)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | 1 year,16 days | (#44269269)

They do go out of their way to please regulators and governmental agencies that can interfere with their business. The USA still has extensive regulations on the export of encryption technologies, regulations that could require compliance reviews and delay major commercial releases by months or force expensive splitting off of encryption technologies as separate packages requiring expensive, separate registration to download. This has occurred repeatedly with older technologies, such as the "3DES" and other password encryption tools used for commercial UNIX password handling.

Governmental access to the consumer's escrowed keys in an easily accessible location, namely Microsoft's databases, is critical to Microsoft's modern "UEFI" and "Trusted Computing" initiatives. The use of such a central escrow for client recovery of their own keys is one reason to have it, but the access for government or even business agencies for doing decryption of customer secured contents is another compelling reason to have it, and to centralize it, and to keep the access policies completely secret and unexamined by their own customers, which is what seems to be the case.

Re:Microsoft is a business. (1)

AHuxley (892839) | 1 year,16 days | (#44269441)

Re wonder what other companies are also doing for the same reason.
What could have the US gov done to M$? Take it to court 'again' and 'win' - shattering M$ down to a few MS branded product ranges as punishment?
A massive ramping up of strange issues with taxes, people in the company, new gov/mil formats open to other US brands on the desktop?
Setting standards reducing MS to just a desktop OS with a larger non MS application product pool been supported?
Lock MS out of .edu and .mil?
All very late to been seen interfering with a US tech and stock success story.
Every user in front of a MS product was feeling 'ok' about the USA, been productive for MS via locked in upgrade and offering other parts of the US gov a way in when needed.
Profit, patriotism, compliance with CALEA as a US imposed global standard would do it?
All very late to ask for a quality back door to span generations of shipping products without some gov or researcher commenting.
Would the NSA and CIA really want to see the rise of next gen EU and Asian brands? A Wang, Bull or some Japan gov backed entity getting encryption traction?
What about Soviet and Russian use? Would they be that trusting/risked so much just to catch up with fast hardware/software?
The risk of some person walking into a Soviet embassy with the usual US spy names/cash for lifestyle/true believer and one extra 'new' tech story would be a huge risk.
Do the timelines and diverse existing trust in MS work if code was requested/injected too late in the company life?
How would the backdoors be cared for over the life of a product? A software Room 641A cared for/injected by a by a few trusted insiders or contractors?
Would late code review/beta and error reports not be a risk?
The other option is a founding of many front companies wrt to 1970's emerging tech around IBM/NSA and one become/lucked/shaped house hold name much later?
From telephone calls and total hearability, satellites to the new PC?

Re:Microsoft is a business. (2)

sjames (1099) | 1 year,16 days | (#44269715)

NSA to Microsoft: "Now I'm not sayin' nothing, but contracts fall through and audits happen... Youse could really use some insurance."

Re:Microsoft is a business. (2)

gmuslera (3436) | 1 year,16 days | (#44269923)

You should consider NSA/FISA by now as mobsters, and what they sell is "protection", specially from the law. And considering how much Microsoft has been protected from the law in the last 20-30 years, i'd say that their cooperation with US intelligence agencies goes back to the last century.

M$, U$A, N$A. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44269055)

And this is the cancer of the world...

The USGov is a huge client (2)

hsmith (818216) | 1 year,16 days | (#44269059)

Does someone really need to connect the dots?

Re:The USGov is a huge client (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44269115)

Hmm, not to seem retarded (as certain comments are),

Brin of google (ex-israel army), Zuckershlager of facebooger, and the founder of akamai?

The vector is clear enough, but for verification purposes, lets add-on "Foxcomm" wireless tender for Capitol Hill.

The lines are not as clear as they should be.
dot-dot-dash-it all!

Re:The USGov is a huge client (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44269277)

Really? Do you really think the administration would threaten NOT to buy anything from MS again AND keep it all secret?

Missed an option. (5, Interesting)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | 1 year,16 days | (#44269065)

It could be 'voluntary' complience, with the quotemarks. The classic offer-you-can't-refuse approach. Perhaps a government representative just explained that one way or another the NSA was going to get total access, but if MS (or any other company) complied now they could at least deign the taps in a way suited to their infrastructure, whereas resisting the request would result - after a couple of sessions of congress - in a new law mandating an NSA-designed system be installed and probably break half their well-designed systems by forcing centralisation.

In the UK we used the same approach to compel ISPs to install anti-child-porn filters: The government never actually passed a law mandating ISPs install filtering, they just made it quite clear that they would pass a law if the industry didn't collectively do so 'voluntarily.' This suits the govermnent very well, because it means the filtering list can be maintained by the IWF, an ultra-secretive unaccoutable non-governmental organisation with all the procedural transparency of a lead brick. If they screw up and block wikipedia, no government department gets the blame and no embarassing enquery is launched.

I'm expecting exactly the same tactic will be used within a few years to pressure ISPs into blocking regular adult pornography too - there's already a major tabloid and a couple of MPs campaigning for it. To protect the children, of course.

Re:Missed an option. (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | 1 year,16 days | (#44269109)

If you were willing to assume Bill Gates was against it (could be, who knows) then you could assume that it's because they have him and his baby by the nuts. Remember, they were convicted of abusing their monopoly position once, and then let off with a handslap. The deal was altered, pray it is not altered further.

Re:Missed an option. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44269293)

break half their well-designed systems

You allmost had me...

filleted Microfiche the order of the day.... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44269071)

Although apples taste nice, the fact of the matter is that microsoft is only one (albeit a big fish) of a number of companies who have bent-over-backwards for the NSA/CIA/MOSSAD.

Google`s Brin is ex-israeli army, Facebook`s Zuckerburger has undisclosed interests in israel (a foreign entity), and Akamai was founded by an israeli-commando?

Hold up, lemme get this write....... The "mines" of the vast majority of private personal data are afilliated with israel? Can this be true? If so, what sort of proportions are we looking at?

"I understand the telephone-metadata of 80% of american cellphones is generated by a company called "AMDOCS", an israeli company. This, in combination with the proportionate/disproportionate illicit access of personal data via israeli-afilliated companies, certainly beggars proverbial belief."

- clicked, not signed, Kaiser So-Say

XBONED every day of your life! The ONE EYE! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44269075)

Xbox One

"All this and now they want to put an always (or nearly) on mic and camera in my home?"
* []

Possible answer (5, Informative)

dkleinsc (563838) | 1 year,16 days | (#44269099)

Remember "national security letters" that were created as part of the "USA Patriot Act"? These were the special kind of fake warrants that were never approved by any judge, but any person or organization who got one wasn't allowed to tell anyone about, including a court of law (preventing anyone from saying "Hey, Fourth Amendment anyone?"). That would explain everything: why FISA didn't stop it, why the companies are cooperating with the NSA, and why they aren't including references to such things in their privacy policies.

Bless you, former senator Russ Feingold, for having the guts to stand up for the Constitution when the entire rest of the Senate ignored it.

What choice do they have? (1)

readingaccount (2909349) | 1 year,16 days | (#44269103)

What do you expect Microsoft to do if the NSA come knocking with a request for information? Say no? You either provide it to them or your company will get severely fined with possible additional legal action taken against it.

Doesn't make it right. Doesn't make it "land of the free". But fuck if Google wouldn't have to deal with the same shit if the NSA came to them (and no doubt they already have). It's just because Microsoft didn't want to make a big fuss for no reason that people are jumping over them.

Having said that, that "Scroogled" campaign of Microsoft is basically in tatters now, and rightly so. Fucking hypocrites.

Re:What choice do they have? (2)

Somebody Is Using My (985418) | 1 year,16 days | (#44269261)

What do you expect Microsoft to do if the NSA come knocking with a request for information? Say no? You either provide it to them or your company will get severely fined with possible additional legal action taken against it.

Ask to see the warrant signed by a judge specifying the individual and information they are requesting the information for?

Say no when they can't produce that information?

Take the government to court when they demand you do something unconstitutional?

In other words, obey the law of the land rather the law of the individuals who happen to be in power at the time?

Other companies - sadly only a handful - have fought these illegal orders; Microsoft could follow that same course too. In fact, given that they have so much power over others, I'd say they have a /responsibility/ to do so.

Pursuit of profit may be the primary incentive for corporations, but it is not their only responsibility. Furthermore, failure to protect the interests of their customers will, in the long run, only /hurt/ their profits.

Re:What choice do they have? (3, Insightful)

readingaccount (2909349) | 1 year,16 days | (#44269311)

Who says they didn't ask for the warrant? Do you know for sure how the requests went down? Also, what makes them illegal orders? If the courts uphold them, they aren't illegal (they might be immoral, but that's another story).

Google's just better at the PR in these cases. But in the end, both companies (indeed, most companies) look out for themselves. They probably know it's not worth fighting the Unites States fucking Government unless you're pretty damn sure it's worth it.

Re:What choice do they have? (5, Informative)

Arker (91948) | 1 year,16 days | (#44269357)

"If the courts uphold them, they aren't illegal"

This is unfortunately a common misunderstanding.

16 Am Jur 2d, Sec 177 late 2d, Sec 256:

The general misconception is that any statute passed by legislators bearing the appearance of law constitutes the law of the land. The U.S. Constitution is the supreme law of the land, and any statute, to be valid, must be In agreement. It is impossible for both the Constitution and a law violating it to be valid; one must prevail. This is succinctly stated as follows:

The General rule is that an unconstitutional statute, though having the form and name of law is in reality no law, but is wholly void, and ineffective for any purpose; since unconstitutionality dates from the time of it's enactment and not merely from the date of the decision so branding it. An unconstitutional law, in legal contemplation, is as inoperative as if it had never been passed. Such a statute leaves the question that it purports to settle just as it would be had the statute not been enacted.

Since an unconstitutional law is void, the general principles follow that it imposes no duties, confers no rights, creates no office, bestows no power or authority on anyone, affords no protection, and justifies no acts performed under it.....

A void act cannot be legally consistent with a valid one. An unconstitutional law cannot operate to supersede any existing valid law. Indeed, insofar as a statute runs counter to the fundamental law of the lend, it is superseded thereby.

No one is bound to obey an unconstitutional law and no courts are bound to enforce it.

Re:What choice do they have? (1)

jbolden (176878) | 1 year,16 days | (#44269587)

That's nice in theory. But in reality what is enforced is the law. The United States has a constitution which is mostly enforced and almost universally respected. Other countries have had constitutions which are mostly ignored.

Re:What choice do they have? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44270047)

The United States has a constitution which is mostly enforced

[citation needed]

Re:What choice do they have? (2)

dcollins (135727) | 1 year,16 days | (#44269665)

But "if the courts uphold them" (what GP said) != "any statute passed by legislators" (what you quoted). You're talking about legislature, GP is talking about courts, and they are of course very different. If the court system, including the Supreme Court, passes judgement and says a law is enforceable, then indeed we can conclude that it is officially constitutional per our legal system. Your quote is not on topic to this point.

Re:What choice do they have? (1)

Arker (91948) | 1 year,16 days | (#44270073)

No, I am talking about the validity of laws, and you seem to be (willfully?) avoiding the point. The unconstitutionality of a law is a result of its conflict with a higher law, not of any pronouncement from a court. The court, should it work correctly, will refuse to enforce unconstitutional laws when that issue is brought before it, however should it fail to perform that duty the law remains unconstitutional nonetheless. It is void from the moment the legislature passes it and no one has any legal obligation to obey it at any time.

The idea that the legislature can rule that 2+2=5 and this will somehow be true until or unless a court rules otherwise is a pernicious falsehood.

Re:What choice do they have? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | 1 year,16 days | (#44269313)

Other companies - sadly only a handful - have fought these illegal orders

And look where it got them. Forget not the story of Qwest. The moral, to me, is that you are not permitted to succeed past a certain point in the USA if you are not willing to violate the constitution.

Re:What choice do they have? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44269589)

It's worse than that. Joseph Nacchio at Qwest did resist and is now in prison. Given the secrecy and that Qwest is the only company to have publicly resisted, he certainly looks like a political prisoner, visibly targetted pour encourager les autres. Key evidence was suppressed on "national security" grounds. This was even before the "patriot" act. A couple of links:

Are you all FUCKING INSANE? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44269107) []

"Microsoft has collaborated closely with US intelligence services to allow usersâ(TM) communications to be intercepted, including helping the National Security Agency to circumvent the companyâ(TM)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 FBIâ(TM)s Data Intercept Unit to âoeunderstandâ 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 âoeteam sportâ."

And you STILL want to do business with them? You STILL want to trust their OS with your personal files and/or communications?

What more do you need?

Re:Are you all FUCKING INSANE? (3)

Cenan (1892902) | 1 year,16 days | (#44269253)

And you STILL want to do business with them? You STILL want to trust their OS with your personal files and/or communications?

It really doesn't matter in what manner the three letter agencies are collecting their information, from the browser, from the SSL socket (pre encryption) or directly from the OS. Google, Facebook, you name it, they'll all have to comply with a national security letter. Oracle would too, and anyone running a Linux based service, the "OS from hell" argument is moot at this point. Nice try though.

Re:Are you all FUCKING INSANE? (2)

TyFoN (12980) | 1 year,16 days | (#44269323)

So the option left is running open source software on your computer with local strong encryption and pray that the chips don't have nasty microcode in them.

I'm already there :)

Re:Are you all FUCKING INSANE? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44269821)

If I use a free and open OS (GNU/Linux or *BSD), avoid US corporate SaaS companies, and encrypt my communications I am safe.

If you use Microsoft Windows, it doesn't matter what else you do to protect yourself, you are NOT safe.

Nice try though.

Anybody who uses Microsoft Windows (or any other Microsoft product) can't care, or is a complete fool.

Re:Are you all FUCKING INSANE? (2)

mcgrew (92797) | 1 year,16 days | (#44269331)

And you STILL want to do business with them? You STILL want to trust their OS with your personal files and/or communications?

It's pretty hard to buy a laptop without "doing business" with them. And I'm sure the NSA can get in my Linux box with little effort, too.

If MS's poorly designed, feature-poor, buggy, user-hostile OS doesn't make folks change OSes I don't think anything will. The only thing keeping Windows on this notebook is laziness, and except for the Patch Tuesday bullshit W7 is almost tolerable. But I'll have to put Linux on it pretty soon, it gets slower every Patch Tuesday.

I'm running kubuntu on the tower. When a patch notification comes in, one click and it's done. No lengthy reboots with "configuring patches, do not turn off your computer." No reopening all the apps that were open after it reboots, no hunting for where I was on that document I was working on when the patch notice comes through.

I haven't booted the tower in months, it only gets shut off when I know I won't be using it for a few days. When I turn the power on it enters the password for me (I live alone) and reopens everything that was open when I shut it down. Guys, if you haven't tried Linux you don't know what you're missing.

Re:Are you all FUCKING INSANE? (1)

Skapare (16644) | 1 year,16 days | (#44269485)

I'm running kubuntu on the tower. When a patch notification comes in, one click and it's done. No lengthy reboots with "configuring patches, do not turn off your computer." No reopening all the apps that were open after it reboots, no hunting for where I was on that document I was working on when the patch notice comes through.

See ... the NSA really CAN get in. Now go back and rebuild your whole system from manually inspected source code, using a toolchain built from manually inspected source code, compiled with a compiler built from manually inspected source code.

Frequency hopping rates (1)

jeti (105266) | 1 year,16 days | (#44269125)

Wasn't the frequency hopping rate in cell phone standards lowered to make surveillance more easy? AFAIK this happened far more than a decade ago.

Re:Frequency hopping rates (1)

amorsen (7485) | 1 year,16 days | (#44269287)

That sounds unlikely. If you know where the signal is going to hop, it is trivial to follow. I have not heard of a standard that picks the next frequency in a cryptographically secure way, but I am prepared to be surprised of course.

I am shocked I tells ya... shocked (1)

Taantric (2587965) | 1 year,16 days | (#44269143)

Kinda puts the whole uproar over Huwaei equipment into perspective doesn't it? Fucking hypocrites

Re:I am shocked I tells ya... shocked (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | 1 year,16 days | (#44269333)

Kinda puts the whole uproar over Huwaei equipment into perspective doesn't it?

Yes, it does. NSA had proof-positive that running Huawei equipment was a bad idea, because they knew beyond any shadow of a doubt that it was possible to build in back doors.

This is not hypocritical. Hypocritical is when they say "if you don't have anything to hide, you have nothing to worry about" when they themselves are breaking the law to spy on us (and others) and then hiding the fact, albeit not very well at this point. But when they say "there could be back doors in that equipment so we shouldn't use it" they are entirely correct. That doesn't solve the problem of the NSA snooping on your communications, but their concern over foreign interests doing the same is still valid. They are concerned over foreign snooping; we are concerned, I hope, over all snooping.

Re:I am shocked I tells ya... shocked (1)

Skapare (16644) | 1 year,16 days | (#44269499)

It's not so much that Huwaei has backdoors in it's products ... it doesn't have the preferred backdoors.

Voluntary? (1)

spacefight (577141) | 1 year,16 days | (#44269233)

Who are you kidding?

Or tit for tat? (1)

sberge (2725113) | 1 year,16 days | (#44269235)

The NSA probably comes across a lot of information that would be useful for US companies.

Re:Or tit for tat? (1)

Tasha26 (1613349) | 1 year,16 days | (#44269465)

More like insider trading and making massive gains on the stockmarket!

Re:Or tit for tat? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44269689)

Like the short selling of airline shares just before 911?

Re:Or tit for tat? (1)

gmuslera (3436) | 1 year,16 days | (#44270131)

No privacy (specially for foreigners, but is valid for most americans too) means that all the code that you shared privately, not for an open source project, but for a private one, in house or whatever, is gathered by them. And Microsoft/Apple could patent/copyright that code/algorithm/design/whatever before those authors could, banning them from using it. Thats how you steal intellectuall property, not doing non destructive copies. With that in the table, intellectual property lost their meaning, as you don't have the right to have any (because the government have the "right" over your privacy).

"new kind of court order" (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44269237)

Where "new kind" includes it being secret.
It used to be that we *had to* know the law, now we're not allowed to know the law.
Not to worry, it's all over our heads anyway, our masters know what's good for us.

Does anyone remember? (1)

Dunbal (464142) | 1 year,16 days | (#44269425)

I know we're bashing Microsoft, but this kind of reminds me when Apple was caught sending huge files home with an OS upgrade on their portable devices. They released a patch that "fixed" it (ie encrypted it). I wonder if that data was also being forwarded to the NSA. That would just leave linux. I hope.

Re:Does anyone remember? (1)

Skapare (16644) | 1 year,16 days | (#44269515)

Don't forget about the BSDs.

Re:Does anyone remember? (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44269667)

OpenBSD Founder: NetSec Probably Contracted to Plant Backdoors

OpenBSD founder Theo de Raadt wrote that a firm was probably contracted to put backdoors in OpenBSD project code, but it is unlikely the flaws made it very far if they existed.
The founder of the OpenBSD project said he believes a firm was "probably contracted" by the government to write backdoors in the OpenBSD Cryptographic Framework (OCF).

What makes anyone think the FBI would give up after one attempt? What makes anyone think that Linux hasn't been compromised? Just because they're open source project? That's only a comfort if you have people who can fully audit the code and trace every executable code path under every conceivable condition. Theo de Raat even claimed that the IPSec section of the OpenBSD code was just assumed to be safe and needed auditing. I'm guessing that pretty much goes for the Linux kernel as well.

It's pretty clear that the US government went ahead and implemented its "Total Information Awareness" program even though Congress shot down funding for it back in the early naughts. I think its safe to assume that if an OS is used globally, the US government is going to everything it can to keep it from being an impediment to its surveillance activities.

Skype! (5, Interesting)

Tasha26 (1613349) | 1 year,16 days | (#44269455)

The purchase of popular Skype and modification of supernode to ease snooping now makes perfect sense. MS is just a front for NSA spying!

We now know it's not turtles. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44269657)

Secret laws, secret courts, secret trials - it's secrets all the way down

If the companies gave a fuck (1)

future assassin (639396) | 1 year,16 days | (#44269713)

They would all release the letters to the public all at once. What's the gov gonna do jail all of them?

MS vs. DOJ settled immediately after 9/11.. Duh... (2)

Dr_Marvin_Monroe (550052) | 1 year,16 days | (#44269735)

Haven't you people been paying attention?

Microsoft vs. DOJ was settled almost immediately after 9/11, from wikipedia "On November 2, 2001, the DOJ reached an agreement with Microsoft to settle the case". That's just enough time for the dust to settle, and for MS and the DOJ to wrangle a deal over permitting the government "backdoor access" to everything on your computer.

Why do you think the US government permitted a convicted monopolist to continue without any punishment?
The US DOJ had won the case, and like Aaron Schwartz, they were attempting to squeeze everything that's important to them from the convicted parth.

Sure, they were ordered to go along with the consent decree, but that's not a real punishment, like the rest of us were expecting.

Remember those NSA keys that were found in the release of Windows that included debugging symbols?...
They were there in MS Windows even BEFORE 9/11....Look it up here: []

Don't you people pay attention?

Re:MS vs. DOJ settled immediately after 9/11.. Duh (3, Informative)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | 1 year,16 days | (#44269801)

Sorry for all you conspiracy theorists, but:

Correlation does not imply causation.

Re:MS vs. DOJ settled immediately after 9/11.. Duh (2)

erroneus (253617) | 1 year,16 days | (#44270075)

"Conspiracy theorist" is no longer a negative. Turns out a lot of conspiracy theory has been right all along. And even if not all of it is right, it has been demonstrated that the public trust has been completely compromised and so EVERYTHING the government does requires suspicion and scrutiny. It's much more convenient to try to think about other things or to just turn on the TV to see what else is on, but if you think that way -- if you're intentionally "protecting your sanity" by avoiding knowing the truth or debunking lies, then you are, by all classic definitions, sheeple. "Don't want to think about it. Don't want to worry about it. Just want to live your day to day life." That's sheeple talking.

You're being dismissive without considering the whole of reality. "This doesn't necessarily prove that." Great. But why stop there and smugly turn away as if you've demonstrated some kind of superior wisdom?

Re:MS vs. DOJ settled immediately after 9/11.. Duh (1)

AHuxley (892839) | 1 year,16 days | (#44269997)

Yes []
" they monitor everything and everyone. Politicians, organizations, companies, private individuals, even friends in allied countries. In 1985, their long-term goal was "total hearability", i.e. the capability to listen in on all communication around the world.""
Fun reading back in []
Now we have the Snowden news to reflect:
Did the risk of a stock crash and very bad press save your network/OS?
Chain of command and accountability save your network/OS?
Did some committee in Congress save your network/OS?
Complexity save your network/OS?
Did a .com refusing to cooperate save your network/OS?
They cannot use the data in court...
We would see the data moving
Someone would talk real 'soon'
They only care about "military" stuff..
Only outside of the US
Australia is safe :)

Irrelevant (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44269815)

The only true way of preventing that the government does not do this kind of thing is ensuring that the government does not have the money and power to do it, for that you would have to accept of course the reduction of your government to a bare shell and have the rest provided by community/private driven efforts.

I'll parrot too (1)

erroneus (253617) | 1 year,16 days | (#44270021)

It's only because I believe it will be among the only more peaceful ways we can get things to straighten out.

For hundreds or even thousands of years, business has sought to enjoy favor and support of government. With the help of government, they can more easily monopolize and therefore make more profit. Today is no different... well... maybe a little different.

The thing is, we rely much more heavily on information than ever before. Sure, buying food and other tangibles haven't exactly gone out of style, but informaiton and communications have become commodities in and of themselves. So it's kind of bigger than ever before. So when the stuff we use and buy compromise us so dramatically, we have a situation which is essentially without precedent. Our technology is being used against us in a very big way.

The large vendors of tech and communications and informaiton have all been touched [tainted] by governments all over. Our lives have been compromised, limited and subverted. If you are STILL using these technologies, there is either no option to do otherwise or you're a giant fool right now. In the case of "The Internet" there aren't other options -- the internet works best when there's only one that everyone uses -- same for the phone network. But devices? Well, we have open source OSes which are quite viable. We have open source applications which are setting standards for commercial applications. And even the suspect "Android" devices have the source code available and is actively being used to create custom installations. (READ: reviewed and stripped of code which may be unwanted.)

So if you're running a stock Android device put out by Google or other vendors, you're just as foolish as a Microsoft Windows user in many respects. (Slightly less foolish if you're sacrificing your security and privacy because you can't "play games" as well under F/OSS operating systems. Seriously. Games are not quite as important as your basic human rights. Please try argue otherwise.)

What we're looking at is something very interesting and as I ponder what it could mean and what it could lead to, one thing occurs to me, as it has occurred to others here, is that as these commercial products and services are recognized as compromised or even dangerous, people WILL begin to seek alternatives and it WILL result in cutting off the money supply to those who have been working with government. To survive, eventually the "we don't work with government" statement will represent a statement of trust not just for individuals and business, but of other governments as well. Let's face it -- it's almost ALL about US goods and services.

Snowden and those like him are "harming" the US and may result in a much more extremely depressed US economy. I'm a US Citizen and I don't look forward to anything like that happen as it affects my life quite directly. However, I also see something else -- something I find comforting in some ways. That if things begin to unravel as I hope they might, we may be able to restore government to a form and purpose which it was intended and not as a means for a few to rape and reap the resources of the planet which includes all of us.

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