Microsoft Clarifies Prism Cooperation And Refutes Reports From The Guardian


The Xbox One‘s Kinect sensor being a required peripheral for the system to function has become less of an annoyance and more of a major concern for some gamers. Last week we reported on new information that came to light detailing Microsoft and Skype‘s level of cooperation in the NSA‘s Prism program. Since then Microsoft has been crossing T’s and dotting I’s along with collecting factual data that refutes some of the Guardian‘s claims. Due to government policy, Microsoft isn’t able to fully detail the nature of their relationship with the Prism program, but executive vice president Brad Smith explained as much as is permitted by the government. Microsoft has also petitioned the United States government to share more information about the nature of requests they receive in regard to sharing user information. In reference to this request, Smith said,

 “Government lawyers have yet to respond to the petition we filed in court on June 19, seeking permission to publish the volume of national security requests we have received,”

He also directly refuted many claims made by the Guardian’s report,

“We do not provide any government with direct access to emails or instant messages. Full stop,”


“To be clear, we do not provide any government with the ability to break the encryption, nor do we provide the government with the encryption keys,”


“When we are legally obligated to comply with demands, we pull the specified content from our servers where it sits in an unencrypted state, and then we provide it to the government agency.”

The final quote in the string applies to the documents that the Guardian cited when first reporting on Microsoft’s role in Prism. Smith doesn’t deny the conversations took place, he simply states they weren’t accurately interpreted.

“While we did discuss legal compliance requirements with the government as reported last week, in none of these discussions did Microsoft provide or agree to provide any government with direct access to user content or the ability to break our encryption,”

Smith also explains that any and all requests for information are processed through Microsoft’s compliance team, where they’re reviewed for validity. This seems to imply that Microsoft has denied requests in the past, but that isn’t specifically stated. Our hope is that Microsoft be granted further permission to clarify the type of collaboration the tech giant has had with the NSA’s Prism program. The expression ‘Any press is good press’ no longer applies when two straight months of black balling has taken place. At this point many gamers aren’t considering the amount of software they want to buy at the Xbox One’s launch, their consideration is focused on whether they want to bring the console into their homes, or not.

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Dylan Zellmer

Dylan splits time between games journalism, designing video games, and playing them. Outside of his deep involvement in the games industry, he enjoys It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Shameless, A Song of Ice and Fire, fitness, and family.
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