Ex-Microsoft privacy head doesn’t trust former employer

A former Microsoft privacy adviser has lost faith in the security of its technology after evidence of collusion with the US National Security Agency [NSA].

Caspar Bowden, who was head of privacy policy in 40 countries at Microsoft from 2002 to 2011, had no knowledge of the US government Prism programme during his time at the company.

“I don’t trust Microsoft now,” he told a conference in Lausanne, Switzerland according to the Guardian, before adding that he only uses open source software in order to be able to pore over underlying code whilst adding that he’s not carried a mobile phone for two years.

Bowden went on to claim that the extent of the NSA surveillance, including the data it gathers and shares with the UK GCHQ as well as similar agencies in Canada, New Zealand, and Australia, is damaging democracy.

"The public now has to think about the fact that anybody in public life, or person in a position of influence in government, business or bureaucracy, now is thinking about what the NSA knows about them. So how can we trust that the decisions that they make are objective and that they aren't changing the decisions that they make to protect their career? That strikes at any system of representative government,” Bowden added.

He later stated that the wording of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act [FISA] means “there’s no protection if you’re not an American” and echoes similar sentiments regarding non-US citizens from other observers.

It was claimed earlier this year that Microsoft assisted the NSA in bypassing its encryption settings on Outlook.com after the agency had complained it would be unable to access web chats on the new portal.

Microsoft issued a denial shortly after and reiterated that it only allows the government access to data “in response to legal processes”. Following the claims, explained in documents released by whistleblower Edward Snowden, Microsoft shed light on a FISA court filing in which it asked for permission to publish numbers on the amount of FISA requests received.