Microsoft Stepping Up Privacy Efforts

Redmond is looking to become a leader in a newly competitive space: your privacy. On Wednesday, Microsoft announced that it is expanding encryption across all of its services and undertaking other actions to guard against snooping by governments.

On the official Microsoft blog, General Counsel Brad Smith wrote that his company shares the concerns of customers EUabout government surveillance of the Internet.EU Because of this shared interest, he said, the companyEUs steps are designed to ensure that governments EUuse legal process rather than technological brute force to assess customer data.EU

He specifically mentioned EUrecent allegations in the press of broader and concerted efforts by some governments to circumvent online security measuresEU in order to gather private customer data, in particular the interception without warrants or subpoenas of data as it travels EUbetween customers and servers or between company data centers.EU

Tapping Backbones

Last month, The New York Times reported that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) could spy on Google and Yahoo users, and possibly others, without having direct access to the data centers of those companies, by tapping into the fiber-optic Internet backbones of such providers as Verizon, the BT and Level 3.

The story said it wasnEUt clear if the providers cooperated and, at any rate, Yahoo and Google are now encrypting their data for backbone travel. One assumes such encryption could make the NSAEUs task harder, but itEUs also not evident how difficult decoding that encrypted data would be for the worldEUs most capable encryption/decryption governmental agency. Microsoft said it will employ EUbest-in-class industry cryptography,EU such as Perfect Forward Secrecy and 2048-bit key lengths.

Microsoft noted that it has been encrypting its products and services for years to protect against hackers, and it has EUno evidenceEU of unauthorized government access but it wants to address the issue directly.

EUEnhancing the TransparencyEU

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