Microsoft announces plan to combat government spying

Microsoft blasts government surveillance as an 'advanced persistent threat' and vows to fight back

The chief lawyer for U.S. software giant Microsoft, Brad Smith, announces new plan to combat government surveillance.
JOHN THYS/AFP/Getty Images

Microsoft has referred to government surveillance of online activity as an "advanced persistent threat," comparing it to malware, and said the company is introducing comprehensive measures to strengthen online security.

In a blog post late Thursday, Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith accused "some governments" of circumventing online security measures and legal protections, undermining confidence in the security and privacy of online communications.

While Microsoft has traditionally focused its encryption efforts on hackers, Smith said the company is currently pursuing a "comprehensive engineering effort" that will prevent unauthorized government access. Microsoft will take "immediate and coordinated action" by expanding encryption, strengthening legal protections, and increasing transparency, Smith said.

"We believe these new steps strike the right balance, advancing for all of us both the security we need and the privacy we deserve," he wrote.

The company vowed to fight every gag order in court and to add language to its business contracts notifying customers of every government request. 

"Ultimately, we’re sensitive to the balances that must be struck when it comes to technology, security and the law," Smith said. "We all want to live in a world that is safe and secure, but we also want to live in a country that is protected by the Constitution." 

The post follows similar remarks Smith made in July when he urged Attorney General Eric Holder to uphold the Constitution by investigating the National Security Agency's controversial PRISM program, a mass electronic surveillance data mining program.

Al Jazeera

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