US government "stopping" Microsoft from disproving spying claims

Microsoft has insisted it does not share customer data with governments, but the US government is preventing the platform holder from proving it.

Last week, leaked documents seemingly revealed that Microsoft granted the National Security Agency access to emails and Skype calls as part of its spying program, according to the Guardian.

Natually, such reports have raised concerns from users and the media – particularly in the light of reports that Kinect will always be monitoring the room for the words "Xbox On".

However, Microsoft’s TechNet blog has since claimed it "does not provide any government with direct and unfettered access to customers’ data" and it has asked the Attorney General’s permission to share more details on how it handles NSA requests.

"We believe the US Constitution guarantees our freedom to share more information with the public, yet the Government is stopping us," wrote Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel and EVP of legal and corporate affairs.

"There are significant inaccuracies in the interpretations of leaked government documents reported in the media last week."

Smith was able to clarify a few issues.

In terms of email, he confirmed that Microsoft does not give governments direct access to emails, but explained that, like all communications providers, it is sometimes obligated to turn over content from specific accounts if presented with a search warrant or court order. The same applies for file-sharing service SkyDrive.

With Skype, the internet calling service that will be central to Xbox One’s chat system, Smith said Microsoft only complies with lawful demands about "specific accounts or identifiers", and that any changes made to the service "were not made to facilitate greater government access to audio, video, messaging or other customer data".

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