Since the revelations that poured thick from the likes of Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden first came to the attention of the public, total transparency has begun to be demanded in the handling of public data. Naturally, for companies such as Microsoft, building a new business empire in the cloud, this is something of a difficulty.
Nonetheless, Redmond has been committed to presenting itself as a champion of privacy, challenging the US government on data requests and standing up for the rights of students. To this end, it has published its latest bi-annual list of government requests for information from its servers. The report covers Microsoft's policies regarding the handling of its customers' data, the number of requests received from around the world and how Microsoft responded to those requests. Information is also aggregated to make it easier to understand the scale of the situation.
Having analyzed the data collected, and having looked at the situation around the world with regards to security, Microsoft has recommended that a number of steps be taken to ensure that the mass proliferation of searches for public data is controlled to some degree and does not increase exponentially. The first is that public surveillance policies must be reformed, with increased rights for individuals against the whims of larger groups being guaranteed.
Secondly, clarity of international law on law enforcement accessing data abroad is requested. As the internet spreads to more and more citizens of the globe, and as security services attempt to control difficult situations, it is increasingly necessary to work across national borders. Making sure that nations work together in these requests could ensure that conflicting interests are avoided more easily than before. Lastly, Microsoft wants a commitment from national governments that they will not attempt to hack technology companies, which is detrimental for all involved.
Whether these recommendations will be listened to is dependent on whether national governments will be willing to listen. Nonetheless, with the publishing of this report, Microsoft is becoming increasingly committed to the security of the individual, and is becoming increasingly seen as a body to watch in this area.
Do you believe Microsoft is doing the right thing? Let us know in the comments below.