Microsoft Says a Resounding NO to Governments Seeking Customer Data

Microsoft says no to governments seeking customer data

As intelligence agencies around the world keep chasing large tech companies, asking them to turn over customer data, tech companies are finding very little space to maneuver. Remember when candidate Donald Trump tore into Apple, calling the tech giant “disgraceful” for rejecting a court order to unlock one of the San Bernardino attackers’ phones to help FBI with its investigation?

“”Boycott Apple until they give up the information,” Trump said at a rally in Pawleys Island, South Carolina. “The phone is owned by the government…Tim Cook is looking to do a big number probably to show how liberal he is. Apple should give up.””Bloomberg

Taking a stand similar to that of Cook, Brad Smith, president of Microsoft told ITV News in an interview after the terror attack in London: “We will not help any government, including our own, hack or attack any customer anywhere. We will turn over data only when we are legally compelled to.”

Microsoft’s president agreed that there are situations where law enforcement will need information that can save lives, but at the same time, cautioned that governments tend to go too far at times.

This is going to be a sensitive topic to address, and one that technology companies are treading very carefully around. They certainly don’t want to be seen as making terrorists’ jobs easy, or even to be construed as obstructing investigations, but they also want to protect the privacy of their customers from governments around the world.

Late last year, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft and Google’s YouTube announced that they will work together to create a shared database to help them flag terrorist content and track down violent images and recruitment videos. It would appear now that the time is also ripe for such a collective policy for dealing with governments and investigative agencies around the world attempting to get at customer data.

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