As more information about the NSA’s controversial data collection policies becomes known each day, technology firms and citizens alike are taking a look at new ways to protect their digital privacy. That includes Microsoft, with company executives reportedly meeting this week to discuss how to best protect the company and its customers from unauthorized government access to its networks.
The Washington Post reported Tuesday that Microsoft executives are considering new encryption techniques to defeat intrusion efforts by the NSA and other government entities on its corporate and customer networks. The move comes after an October report in which it was revealed that the NSA had intercepted the internal network traffic of Google and Yahoo, which both maintain networks similar to Microsoft’s. Further concern arose after internal NSA slides leaked by former contractor Edward Snowden made references to Microsoft’s Hotmail and Windows Live Messenger services while discussing broader intrusions into Google and Yahoo networks.
Thus far, however, Microsoft’s steps are preemptive; there is no publicly available information that proves the NSA accessed the company’s networks as it did with Yahoo and Google. But Microsoft executives aren’t taking any chances, with the company’s general counsel, Brad Smith, characterizing the possibility of past or future unauthorized access as “very disturbing” and a violation of the Constitution if proven true.
Microsoft’s efforts are joined by those from other technology firms. In addition to the aforementioned Yahoo and Google, Facebook is also taking the NSA’s actions seriously, with CEO Mark Zuckerberg harshly criticizing the security agency and pledging that his company, along with others, will begin to take immediate steps to encrypt all internal traffic, with the hope of thwarting future intrusions.