Snowden Reveals Microsoft PRISM Cooperation: Helped NSA Decrypt Emails, Chats, Skype Conversations

on July 11 2013 5:19 PM
Edward Snowden
Edward Snowden can stay in Russia for one year under a "temporary asylum" agreement, his lawyer says. The Guardian

New leaks from Edward Snowden reveal that Microsoft helped the NSA circumvent Microsoft’s own encryption software to intercept users’ private communications. The documents, published by The Guardian Thursday afternoon, reveal more about the NSA’s secret PRISM program and the cooperation between tech companies and surveillance agencies.

Snowden revealed that the NSA was worried it wouldn’t be able to access private chats within a new Outlook.com portal. Just five months after it first tested the portal, Microsoft found a solution to help the NSA get around the encryption. Microsoft launched the Outlook.com portal to the public in February 2012, just two months after coming up with the solution. Microsoft also allowed PRISM to access Hotmail, Live and Outlook.com emails before they got encrypted.

Microsoft also worked with the FBI to help the NSA access the SkyDrive, a Microsoft cloud storage service with more than 250 million users. These revelations seem to directly contradict a claim by Microsoft that it had no knowledge of PRISM and that it only gave up user data when legally required to.  

The latest Snowden leak reveals more about how Skype was involved in PRISM, showing that the NSA was collecting video and audio conversations. This seems to be a direct violation of Skype’s privacy policy, which states, "Skype is committed to respecting your privacy and the confidentiality of your personal data, traffic data and communications content."

Perhaps most alarming, the data collected through PRISM was not limited to the NSA, but also shared with the FBI and CIA. One document called the program a “team sport.” 

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