Guardian has continued spilling the secrets of NSA’s PRISM program. According to the latest reports by the paper, Microsoft has been actively collaborating with the spy agency, handing it access to Outlook.com as well as the bulk of conversations on Skype.
This report is especially astonishing because Microsoft is among the many tech companies which vehemently denied any involvement in the PRISM program. But according to the Guardian, the company has worked very closely with NSA in order to ensure that the spy agency has access to all the user data.
For instance, Microsoft recently rebranded Hotmail as Outlook.com. However, before rolling out the new service, the company allowed NSA to have pre-encryption access to Outlook.com. In other words, NSA was able to read Outlook.com emails even before the service was formally launched.
The most shocking revelations are about Skype. The chat client is immensely popular for audio and video conversations around the globe. Even before it was acquired by Microsoft, Skype was collaborating with NSA. The agency was able to record not only audio conversations but video files as well, letting them have comprehensive metadata on nearly every Skype conversation.
The worst part is that NSA had access to all this data under a blanket permission. The agency didn’t send data requests on per-case basis. Rather, it simply wiretapped into the bulk of data which is a clear violation of privacy rights and goes against the procedures of the controversial FISA court.
Apparently, the procedures of FISA court no longer were revelant when NSA was able to establish a direct relationship with a given tech company. According to the leaked documents, this “means that analysts will no longer have to make a special request to SSO [Special Source Operation] for this – a process step that many analysts may not have known about.”