Microsoft does not give the National Security Agency direct access to its customers’ email or instant messages, contrary to previous news reports, a company executive said.
News reports last week suggested that Microsoft has helped the NSA circumvent the company’s own encryption in order to conduct surveillance on email accounts through Outlook.com, but company General Counsel Brad Smith said Tuesday that’s not true.
“We do not provide any government with direct access to emails or instant messages,” Smith wrote in a blog post. “Full stop.”
The company does not help government agencies circumvent its encryption, he added. “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,” he wrote. “When we are legally obligated to comply with [government] 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.”