An important aspect of the spying operations that have been exposed over the past month by National Security Agency (NSA) whistle-blower Edward Snowden is the collusion of giant telecommunications and technology companies with the Obama administration and US intelligence agencies in the systematic violation of democratic rights.
A major element in this corporate-intelligence nexus was revealed late last week in articles detailing software giant Microsoft’s intimate relations with the NSA and the FBI.
According to Snowden, Microsoft worked with the NSA to develop procedures to get around the company’s own encryption mechanisms, allowing unfettered access to its Outlook.com service, which includes Hotmail, Messenger and other widely used programs. It also collaborated with the FBI and NSA to ensure access to SkyDrive, a file-hosting service used by some 250 million people.
In 2011, Microsoft acquired Skype, a chat, voice and video communications system that currently has 800 million users. While Skype had already begun collaborating with US spy agencies, the NSA boasted that nine months after Microsoft took over the company, the number of video calls accessed by the agency had tripled.