Report: Microsoft taught NSA how to crack encrypted emails

Microsoft helped American intelligence officials gain easier access to their users' electronic communications, The Guardian reported on Thursday.

Documents leaked by former government contractor Edward Snowden show that Microsoft helped the National Security Agency (NSA) work around the encrypted code on its new Outlook portal after the spy agency expressed concern that it wouldn't be able to intercept Web chats, according to The Guardian.

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Microsoft also gave the FBI easier access to its cloud storage service SkyDrive and let the NSA have access to email on Outlook and Hotmail before it was encrypted, according to the paper.

The video service Skype, which is owned by Microsoft, also allowed the NSA to cull video and audio conversations, the newspaper reported. 

The accusations are just the latest to surface about the NSA working with top tech companies to conduct surveillance. The Guardian and The Washington Post reported last month that Google, Microsoft, Facebook and other tech companies had allegedly given the NSA "direct access" to their servers that store user data.


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Microsoft told The Guardian that it only hands over customer data "in response to government demands and we only ever comply with orders for requests about specific accounts or identifiers."

"When we upgrade or update products we aren't absolved from the need to comply with existing or future lawful demands," the company added.

The Guardian report runs counter to Microsoft's claims that it did not give the NSA access to its servers. All of the tech companies linked to the Prism surveillance program have denied prior knowledge about it and have attempted to distance themselves from it.

In addition to releasing figures on the number of government requests it receives for user data, Microsoft joined Google in filing a petition with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to ask for permission to publish the aggregate number of national security requests they receive for user information. Google and Microsoft want to publish that figure separately from the number of criminal requests for user information they receive.

The aim is to quell users' concerns about how the companies handle and protect user data.