Microsoft promises to safeguard against "advanced persistent threat" of government data snooping

Government monitoring of internet data presents an advanced persistent threat” according to a new pro-consumer blog from Microsoft.

Many of our customers have serious concerns about government surveillance of the internet,” Microsoft’s general counsel and executive VP of legal and corporate affairs Brad Smith wrote.

We share their concerns. That’s why we are taking steps to ensure governments use legal process rather than technological brute force to access customer data. Like many others, we are especially alarmed by recent allegations in the press of a broader and concerted effort by some governments to circumvent online security measures in order to surreptitiously collect private customer data.

If true, these efforts threaten to seriously undermine confidence in the security and privacy of online communications. Indeed, government snooping potentially now constitutes an ‘advanced persistent threat’ alongside sophisticated malware and cyber attacks.”

As a result the company has pledged to expand its encryption services, reinforce the legal protection for customer data and be more transparent about its own coding so customers have a better understanding of how Microsoft handles their data.

Ultimately, we’re sensitive to the balances that must be struck when it comes to technology, security and the law,” Smith added. 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.

We want to ensure that important questions about government access are decided by courts rather than dictated by technological might. And we’re focused on applying new safeguards worldwide, recognizing the global nature of these issues and challenges. We believe these new steps strike the right balance, advancing for all of us both the security we need and the privacy we deserve.”

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