Surveillance’s role in technology has been a hot issue around the world for several year and for good reason. Microsoft has been criticized for complying with the NSA and providing backdoors into their service for state spying. However spokespersons from Microsoft have always denied any collusion with the NSA and also denied the existence of backdoors. A new transparency center has been created in Brussels in order to give governments the ability to audit code they suspect may be insecure.
Many tech companies have been under fire for providing too much access to the NSA and not protecting user privacy. Microsoft specifically has said they do not provide special access, but instead are simply complying with the law when information requests come from governments. One specific point of concern frequently brought up involves their discloser of bugs before they are patched. Yet again Microsoft claims this is simply best practice concerning notifying their customers of possible vulnerabilities to their systems. They cannot prevent agencies such as the NSA from trying to exploit these bugs.
By opening this transparency center in Brussels hopefully Microsoft can rebuild faith in their products. Since Microsoft’s products are not open source they need to make a special and concerted effort to prove their code is safe and secure for government use. In the end Microsoft cannot avoid the fact they are a huge tech company which will continue to be targeted by hackers who are state sponsored or not. Also the biggest threat to customer data lies in simple information request which Microsoft is compelled to fulfill. The best most secure way to navigate this new world of surveillance involves redundant systems, clever usage patterns, and being data agile.Further reading: Microsoft, NSA, spying, Transparency Center