Microsoft Lawyer Wants Overseas Data Centers for Non-U.S. Citizens to Avoid NSA Snooping
January 23, 2014 11:13 AM
The NSA has foreign customers worried for their privacy
A Microsoft lawyer said that customers should be able to have their personal data placed in non-U.S. data centers after the recent U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) revelations.
, Microsoft's general counsel Brad Smith feels that customers outside of the U.S. would likely feel more at ease with not only having their data stored in a non-U.S. facility, but also choosing the exact location of the data center.
"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," said Smith.
While Smith's comments have not been confirmed by Microsoft, it's still pretty shocking to hear the idea from a lawyer associated with a major U.S. tech company because tech giants Apple, Google, Facebook and Twitter have all called for greater transparency and the end of bulk data collection, but haven't made a push for foreign customers selecting their own non-U.S. data centers. In fact, the tech companies made a unified decision saying, "Governments should not require service providers to locate infrastructure within a country's borders or operate locally."
Brad Smith [SOURCE: CNET]
However, Microsoft could be worrying about public backlash overseas due to the NSA's behavior, which is spying on foreign customers of tech companies through their data centers. It would also be easier for Microsoft to offer customers a choice of where to have their data stored because the company has many data centers around the globe.
Smith added that there should be an international agreement between the U.S. and EU saying that neither side will try to seek data in the other's borders.
"If you want to ensure that one government doesn't seek . . . to reach data in another country, the best way to do it is . . . an international agreement between those two countries," said Smith. "Secure a promise by each government that it will act only pursuant to due process and along the way improve the due process."
The NSA has been under the microscope ever since former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked details about the NSA's secret spy programs to the media early last year. It was later revealed that Snowden conned between 20 to 25 NSA employees to
give him their login credentials and passwords
while working at the NSA regional operations center for a month in Hawaii last spring. Snowden reportedly told the NSA employees that he needed their passwords in order to do his job, and after downloading secret NSA documents, he leaked the information to the media.
Since then, it has been revealed that the NSA taps into tech companies' data centers to search for information specifically on foreign customers in an effort to detect terrorist activity. But the NSA was gathering certain information without any specific reason, leading non-U.S. citizens to fear for their privacy.
Snowden told the media last month that his
mission is complete
after spending the last year leaking secret NSA documents.
"If you look at the last five years, if you look at what major innovations have occurred in computing technology, every single one of them came from AMD. Not a single innovation came from Intel." -- AMD CEO Hector Ruiz in 2007
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