Microsoft working closely with NSA -- direct access given to Hotmail, Skydrive

Microsoft works closely with U.S. Intelligence services, reports The Guardian, allowing interception of users’ communications, email, and cloud storage. Glenn Greenwald, et al., offer the latest on the NSA’s domestic surveillance program. The documents show that: • Microsoft helped the NSA to circumvent its encryption to address concerns that the agency would be unable to… READ THE REST

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Big Data is watching YOU.

No surprises there. MicroSoft has never seen its users as anything other than suckers to be sold out to someone else: advertisers, the NSA, whoever. I remember when the first WinDoze machine in our lab started dialing out to the MotherShip without the knowledge or permission of anyone - a new concept in computing! When discovered the lab chief ripped the cable out of the wall and turned it off.

But concerns about usability, cost of ownership, compatibility and security were overridden by the fact that some vice-president had read an article in “Byte” magazine saying that WinDoze was the way to go.

Okay! That’s an account closed then.

Video? Audio? Golly, I thought it was just metadata they were after.


Natch. This has been at least suspected for a long time and last years’ update of Skype was assumed to be particularly for this reason. I would love to get off the MS, and probably all US based services, but what I (we) need is a good list of reputable, honest non-US operators that are not subject to the same kind of government information gathering requirements in their own countries as the US operators are here. Anyone have any idea of a good clearinghouse of this kind of info & analysis?

Washington: Freshly released interview excerpts of former intelligence
contractor Edward Snowden reveal that major US tech companies like
Google, Facebook and Apple “get together” with the National Security
Agency to provide them the information and data sent and shared by the

The latest revelations come as The Guardian has published the second
part of an interview given by Snowden on June 6, 2013.

It ain’t just Microsoft.

Microsoft advert - “Your privacy is our priority”

I complained to the Advertising Standards Authority in the UK, I think everyone should.


From GG’s piece in the Guardian:

One document boasts that Prism monitoring of Skype video production
has roughly tripled since a new capability was added on 14 July 2012.
“The audio portions of these sessions have been processed correctly
all along, but without the accompanying video. Now, analysts will have
the complete ‘picture’,” it says.

Eight months before being bought by Microsoft, Skype joined the Prism
program in February 2011.

As I’ve said elsewhere: Privacy was a quaint 20th-century concept, lasting from the time when communities became too large for everyone to know everyone else’s business until the time technology caught up with that.

I don’t like that conclusion. But it leads to the right set of assumptions. If you don’t want it seen, don’t put it on line without appropriate safeguards.

One of the most basic safeguards is to assume that any services you aren’t paying for – or are getting cheaply – probably doesn’t see protecting your data as a very high priority. I’m confused by the people who rant about the NSA and post from gmail accounts…

Why not just assume that all services do not have your interest at heart with regards to privacy? I mean, that’s what “Big Data” is… it’s mining all the data they have for meta-data that can be sold.

The reality is, if it’s on the internet… it’s public. Period. Now, what that looks like could be encrypted gibberish or it could be your top secret corporate / personal information. But it’s ALL public.

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I think that in many ways we are returning to normal after a century of unusually positive developments. Of course, a lot of things during that century were only golden for middle and upper class people. Now more and more of us are experiencing underclass life: poor and insecure food, medical care, housing, and education; lack of privacy; abuse by police; disenfranchisement; etc. The bubble popped.


So if I somehow get NSA’s attention does that mean the Microsoft will include something extra special for me on patch Tuesday?

seems to me that if you can’t trust Microsoft any more with your computer’s security than you can trust the various black hat hackers then allowing them to make arbitrary unchecked changes to it is probably a bad idea - time to turn all that stuff off, assuming you really can …

It’s so funny, when I was a crazy college kid I ranted and ranted about internet and telephony monitoring, and nobody seemed to give a shit (this was back in the 1996 through 2000 timeframe).

Now that everybody uses and relies on the internet, some folks seem to care. Ironically, I have stopped caring, because I’ve been operating under the premise that all electronic communications have been monitored for the past 15 or so years.

I still use the internet. Kind of hard not to. So — yeah. Everything is monitored. It’s how it is now, and it seems very unlikely to change.

Oh, the other thing you can assume? Every single nation-state on Earth is doing this, not just the USA – so thinking that you’ll be safe by moving to services outside the USA is probably not only pointless, but may actually be worse. I trust the US security apparatus infinitely more than, say, China’s.


Yet another vindication for Snowden that his distractors will ignore and sweep under the rug.

The problem for you detractors is you’re quickly… getting… surrounded by educated citizens.

Getting nervous yet, assholes?

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Because some systems are (a) selling their service to you rather than selling you to their advertisers, and (b) have a contract which makes it clear that they are legally responsible for protecting your data and liable if they fail to do so., and that this obligation carries over should their company be purchased or go bankrupt or otherwise find itself under a new legal regime.

You don’t always get what you pay for. But you can get what you pay for. The corrolary is that you should never expect to get what you aren’t willing to pay for.

The Web is not the Internet. Free services are not the Internet. Secure computing IS possible, if you care enough. If it isn’t worth that much to you (and it won’t be, for most folks’ personal correspondence), consider other security approaches (ranging from token efforts to not going on line at all to not caring very much).

Secure computing IS possible,

Not really, just more secure than less secure. Nothing is impregnable. Nothing.

That said, you can take steps to be as secure as possible and bring your odds down to a reasonable expectation of security. But always expect your ass to get handed to you if you get caught slippin’.

And, contracts mean little or nothing in the face of things like National Security Letters, etc. – I’m not saying it’s hopeless, but don’t kid yourself, either.

Also, despite contracts and other assurances, mistakes can and will be made.
For example:

This is the end of US-based corporations having any credibility. As noted above, that includes Google and Apple as well as Microsoft. No one who really values privacy, security, or honesty will ever take them seriously again.

I don’t think the fallout from the NSA’s spying has yet been appreciated fully. It means the end of Silicon Valley, Wall Street, and much more.

When a faith-based society is shown to exist on a bed of lies, it is the end for the corrupt system.

Sadly, no, they probably aren’t.

With half-decent encryption, even if you know how it’s being encrypted, without the key, you can’t decrypt it. Also, with half-decent encryption, only the public key has to be broadcast, (which is the whole point of a PUBLIC key). The private key is the one you need to decrypt the message, and it doesn’t have to be sent anywhere.

From a computing science perspective, even half-decent encryption should not be able to be broken with anything but a super computer.

What this means is that Microsoft specifically put a hole in their encryption programme, just for this purpose.