“Many of our customers have serious concerns about government surveillance of the Internet,” says Microsoft’s Brad Smith. “We share their concerns.”
Microsoft doesn’t like the Snowden revelations, and the allegation that “some governments” – in the words of Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith – are bypassing legal process, to collect Microsoft’s private customer data. To thwart this, Microsoft has promised to expand encryption, reinforce legal protection of customer’s data, and enhance the transparency of its code, to reassure customers that there isn’t a back door in its software.
“We want to ensure that important questions about government access are decided by courts rather than dictated by technological might,” says Smith. “We’re focused on applying new safeguards worldwide, recognizing the global nature of these issues and challenges.”
Wondering why Microsoft’s keen to be seen to be doing this? US companies took a massive blow to the wallet when the NSA revelations came out. The Cloud is the future, thinks Microsoft, but nobody’s going to want to be in its Cloud if the NSA’s poking around in there too. Analysts at Forrester Research claim that the Snowden case could cost the cloud computing industry as much as $180 billion by 2016. That’s a full quarter of the industry’s revenue, gone.
Most of Microsoft’s measures, including the extra encryption protocols, will be in place by 2014 or are already there. “Ultimately, we’re sensitive to the balances that must be struck when it comes to technology, security and the law,” Smith concludes. “We all want to live in a world that is safe and secure, but we also want to live in a country that is protected by the Constitution.”