Microsoft's Decision to Protect Foreign Data from NSA May Bring On Even More Spying

Microsoft's plans may have a few key flaws, specialists say

A little while back, reports indicated that Microsoft would start allowing users to choose where their data was stored to alleviate privacy concerns in the fallout of the NSA scandal. While this isn’t a bad idea in theory, it could end up increasing NSA surveillance, experts suggest.

As mentioned, a while back, Microsoft’s General Counsel Brad Smith, said that the company wanted to start allowing customers to choose the data center they wanted their data to be stored in in light of reports that the NSA had very easy access to data centers inside the United States.

“People should have the ability to know whether their data are being subjected to the laws and access of governments in some other country, and should have the ability to make an informed choice of where their data resides,” Smith said at the time.

According to ZDnet, international law specialists, privacy experts and academics fear that such a move would push the NSA to even more spying.

“Whatever data an American company collects, it can be vulnerable to be obtained by the U.S. government,” said Nicole Ozer, technology and civil liberties policy director at the American Civil Liberties Union.

This means that even if data is stored elsewhere, the US government will still be able to get its hands on it because Microsoft is an American corporation.

Of course, it depends on the relationship between Microsoft’s subsidiaries around the world.

“If a U.S. company stores customer data in a datacenter — wherever it is — and can retrieve it from that datacenter and move it to somewhere else of its choosing, which could be in the U.S., I would certainly see that as showing that it had control and quite possibly custody and possession of the data,” said Douwe Korff, professor of international law in London.

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