Microsoft has asked the US Attorney General, Eric Holder, to personally take action.
Microsoft wants to tell you how it handles national security requests for user data, and has asked the US Attorney General, Eric Holder, for permission to do so. "We believe the US constitution guarantees our freedom to share more information with the public, yet the government is stopping us," says Microsoft. It hopes that Holder can step in to make this right, because it claims there have been "significant inaccuracies in the interpretation of leaked government documents" - PRISM - and it wants to set the record straight.
It is willing to talk on the record about a few things even before Holder weighs in. Microsoft doesn't provide any government with direct access to emails or instant messages, and that includes Outlook (Hotmail). If a warrant or court order is issued, that's a different story, but even then it's Microsoft granting access to a specific account under certain, restricted conditions; certainly nothing like giving the government complete freedom to look at anything whenever it wants. The same goes for the SkyDrive, and all requests are reviewed by Microsoft's compliance team to ensure that any requests for information received are valid, as well as making sure only the data covered by the order is given out.
"The world needs a more open and public discussion of these practices," Microsoft concludes. "While the debate should focus on the practices of all governments, it should start with practices in the United States." The right to free speech is guaranteed by the Constitution, and Microsoft feels it places the US in a unique position. It has been a role model, and to continue doing so means that any US government data collection needs to be discussed in a public forum.
At time of writing Holder has yet to respond to Microsoft's request. An AG spokesman has said that he is reviewing Microsoft's letter.