NB: The original version of this story mistakenly omitted Microsoft’s response to the allegations.
MOSCOW, July 12 (RIA Novosti) – US software giant Microsoft has closely cooperated with the US National Security Agency (NSA) by allowing secret services to bypass the company’s own encryption codes and gain access to programs including Outlook and Skype, The Guardian reported Thursday, citing documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
The British newspaper said documents provided by Snowden showed that the NSA “had pre-encryption stage access to email on Outlook.com, including Hotmail,” and that Microsoft also “worked with the FBI this year to allow the NSA easier access via Prism to its cloud storage service SkyDrive, which now has more than 250 million users worldwide.”
Prism is the US electronic surveillance network exposed last month by Snowden, who previously worked for the CIA and private firms used by the NSA.
“We provide customer data only in response to legal processes,” The Guardian quoted Microsoft as saying in a statement.
“We only ever comply with orders about specific accounts or identifiers, and we would not respond to the kind of blanket orders discussed in the press over the past few weeks,” the company said.
The Guardian said that the top-secret documents provided by Snowden also showed that: “In July last year, nine months after Microsoft bought Skype, the NSA boasted that a new capability had tripled the amount of Skype video calls being collected through Prism.”
Snowden, who faces espionage charges in the United States for leaking details of the secret state surveillance programs, arrived in Russia on a flight to Moscow from Hong Kong on June 23. The US authorities have revoked Snowden’s passport, and he is now believed to be holed up in the transit area of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport while awaiting responses to multiple requests he has made to various countries for political asylum.