It seems that Microsoft is determined to win back public confidence over the privacy of their data. This follows Edward Snowden’s scandalous revelations that the US technology giant had for years cooperated with the National Security Agency (NSA) PRISM program to hand over users’ confidential data to the surveillance organization.
In the face of collapsing consumer confidence (resulting in huge financial loses), last year Microsoft offered to allow non-US customers to store their data in servers located outside the US. Given that both the Patriot Act and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) both legally require US companies that to hand over information on their servers to US intelligence agencies, even if that information resides on servers outside the US, we were somewhat sceptical about this move.
Microsoft has impressed us, however, by refusing to hand over a customer’s data when the inevitable soon happened, and now despite a court ruling against it, how it continues to appeal against the decision.
It has also promised customers of Azure, Office 365, Dynamics CRM Online, and Microsoft Intune that it will warn them when it receives a government request for their data (although whether it is actually able to guarantee this is somewhat dubious).
In its latest show of standing up to government data requests, Skype (which is owned by Microsoft) has been summoned to a Belgium court after refusing to pass on customer data to aid a criminal investigation.
A court spokesperson stated that, ’the judicial question is whether Skype is also a telecoms operator.’ If found against, Skype would be required to hand over the required data and possibly face a fine.
Skype has not so far commented, but this does appear to be a latest round in Microsoft’s public show of not simply rolling over to such government data demands.