NSA Docs Detail Efforts To Collect Data From Microsoft’s Skype, SkyDrive, And Outlook.com

Last July, Glenn Greenwald published a set of claims regarding a number of Microsoft services that were, especially at the time, unsettling: That Microsoft had helped the NSA “circumvent its encryption” relating to web chat on Outlook.com, that it had worked with the FBI to bring OneDrive (then called SkyDrive) into better fit with PRISM, and that government data collection from Skype had increased.

Today, coinciding with the release of his book on the NSA revelations, Greenwald published a set of documents, some of which were not new and some that were. Inside the set were four slides detailing the NSA’s relationship with Microsoft, as well as the company’s work with the FBI to provide for quicker and easier deliverance of required files and the like.

Last July, Microsoft responded to the set of allegations (Greenwald had not released the source material, and Microsoft was under stronger legal censure in what it could say in response), thusly, for Outlook.com:

First, while we did discuss legal compliance requirements with the government as reported last week, in none of these discussions did Microsoft provide or agree to provide any government with direct access to user content or the ability to break our encryption. Second, these discussions were instead about how Microsoft would meet its continuing obligation to comply with the law by providing specific information in response to lawful government orders.


In 2013 we made changes to our processes to be able to continue to comply with an increasing number of legal demands of governments worldwide. None of these changes provided any government with direct access to SkyDrive. 


The reporting last week made allegations about a specific change in 2012.  We continue to enhance and evolve the Skype offerings and have made a number of improvements to the technical back-end for Skype, such as the 2012 move to in-house hosting of “supernodes” and the migration of much Skype IM traffic to servers in our data centers. These changes were not made to facilitate greater government access to audio, video, messaging or other customer data.

In each case, Microsoft was adamant in saying that it only complies with data requests when legally required to.

So, where are we today? The simple gist is that what Greenwald indicated last year as fact has now been better supported through the release of specific documents. Microsoft’s response seems to square with both the initial report and the documents, though, of course, the NSA’s telling of the story isn’t probably to their liking tonally.

Here are the documents themselves:

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TechCrunch will be reading Greenwald’s book in short order. TechCrunch reported earlier today about slides indicating that Facebook is another target for surveillance.