NSA, USA’s Surveillance Agency is now helping UK’s Surveillance Agency GCHQ in intercepting and storing the webcam images of millions of internet users not suspected of wrongdoing, revealed secret documents obtained by The Guardian. The project called Optic Nerve,  started as a prototype in 2008 and was still active in 2012. “Face detection has the potential to aid selection of useful images for ‘mugshots’ or even for face recognition by assessing the angle of the face,” it reads. “The best images are ones where the person is facing the camera with their face upright.” The report also revealed that lots of sexually explicit content was also collected and GCHQ struggled to keep it away from the eyes of its staff. Sexually explicit webcam material proved to be a particular problem for GCHQ, as one document delicately put it: “Unfortunately … it would appear that a surprising number of people use webcam conversations to show intimate parts ...

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Bill Gates, former chairman of Microsoft did a AmA on Reddit. He spoke about his new role at Microsoft, role of NSA and more. I had a lot of fun doing last year’s AMA and am excited to come back for another round of questions about everything from philanthropy to technology to how to lose a chess match in less than 90 seconds (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=84NwnSltHFo). (Step 1: Play the world champion. There is no step 2.) I hope you’ll read my annual letter (http://annualletter.gatesfoundation.org/). Melinda and I talk about three myths that block progress for the poor. I’ll be answering your questions live from my office, starting at 10 a.m. Pacific time. Proof: http://i.imgur.com/iqvPs7N.jpg UPDATE: I’ve responded to a few myths ahead of time, including one that involves me and a $100 bill. Take a look: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YZnmpDrjtDc Read some of his answers below, How do you feel about the NSA and ...

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Microsoft today published its report on the governmental requests on customer data it received for a period of 6 months. Previously, Microsoft and other companies were banned from disclosing such data to the public. After the leading technology companies raised their voice about this concern, government recently agreed for the first time to permit technology companies to publish data about FISA orders. Microsoft has published a table that provides the information going back to July of 2011. Our most recent report covers the period from January – June 2013, addressing all of Microsoft’s services.  Specifically, during this time period: We received fewer than 1,000 FISA orders seeking the disclosure of customer content.  These orders related to between 15,000 and 15,999 accounts or individual identifiers.  It’s important to note that this does not necessarily mean that more than 15,000 people were covered by these data requests. This is because one individual ...

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In an interview to Financial Times, Brad Smith, general counsel of Microsoft revealed that Microsoft will allow its foreign customers to store their data outside the US to protect it from illegal invasion of US government agencies like NSA and others. Even though many other tech companies are opposing this idea, Brad Smith feels that this has become a necessity following leaks that showed the US NSA had been monitoring the data of foreign citizens from Brazil to across the EU. “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,” he told the FT. “Our entire industry is concerned that some customers outside the US are feeling less confident with [American] online services today,” Mr Smith said. “Technology today requires that people ...

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  Lots of information regarding NSA and its PRISM project got leaked last year raising voices from MNCs and general public. US government remained largely silent with concerned agencies making their statements. Last week, President Obama spoke about the role of the National Security Agency and announced some important changes to the surveillance practices of the U.S. government. Brad Smith, General Counsel & Executive Vice President, Legal & Corporate Affairs, Microsoft yesterday blogged that Microsoft is not fully satisfied with the reforms Mr. President announced last week. Even though Microsoft agrees that those changes will makeU.S. citizens, Microsoft believes that there is more work to do to define some of the details and additional steps that are needed. Microsoft will continue to work with both the administration and Congress to advocate for reforms consistent with the principles technology industry outlined in December. This week, the World Economic Forum holds its annual meeting ...

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After the NSA scandal broke this summer, revealing that the U.S. spy agency was eavesdropping wholesale on the most popular services on the web, Microsoft turned to five or six of its top engineers for help.  One of them was Mark Russinovich.  It was only natural that Russinovich ended up on the small team of engineers who would decide how Microsoft should respond to the documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. “It gave Microsoft a wake-up call, especially the revelation of tapping inter-data-center connections,” Russinovich says, referring to an October Washington Post story that exposed an NSA sketch, or “slide,” showing that the agency is grabbing data from lines that run between the massive computer centers operated by the likes of Google and Yahoo. “The tapping of public wires going into a data center? That slide was shocking to me, because it’s just so flagrant.” And, yes, he ...

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Microsoft today revealed that they are joining AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Twitter and Yahoo in calling for reforms of government surveillance. Their main principle is that government access to personal information must be governed by law. Here are their principles, The Principles: 1) Limiting Governments’ Authority to Collect Users’ Information Governments should codify sensible limitations on their ability to compel service providers to disclose user data that balance their need for the data in limited circumstances, users’ reasonable privacy interests, and the impact on trust in the Internet. In addition, governments should limit surveillance to specific, known users for lawful purposes, and should not undertake bulk data collection of Internet communications. 2) Oversight and Accountability Intelligence agencies seeking to collect or compel the production of information should do so under a clear legal framework in which executive powers are subject to strong checks and balances. Reviewing courts should be ...

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I remember 2007 like it was yesterday when there was euphoria in the air around the concept of “hope and change.”  Fast forward six years, a sluggish economy has left many with just a little change in their pockets and one of America’s most successful corporations is condemning its own government as an “Advanced Persistent Threat.” Whistleblower Edward Joseph Snowden was an American computer specialist, a former CIA employee, and former NSA contractor who disclosed over 200,000 classified documents to journalists Glen Greenwald and Laura Poitras. Details released from the cache have revolved primarily around the United States’ NSA mass surveillance program, named PRISM, and to a lesser extent, its counterparts such as the British GCHQ, Israel’s ISNU, the CSE in Canada, the ASIS in Australia and Norway’s NIS.  These leaks proved to be quite embarrassing for the US government and the program appears to be unconstitutional. The leaks have also been harmful to many US based corporations, Yahoo, Google, Apple, Microsoft, and many other who supposedly willingly ...

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There were reports in the past that National Security Agency(NSA) may have broken into its global communications links of leading Internet companies including Microsoft. According to the latest report from Washington Post, Microsoft is well aware of this issue and has planned for a high profile meeting within the company to discuss about their plans to prevent possible NSA snooping. Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith recently said that they are focused on engineering improvements that will further strengthen security, including strengthening security against snooping by governments. Washington Post also reported that Microsoft is engaged in a series of high-level meetings to pursue encryption initiatives “across the full range of consumer and business services.” key decisions will be made at a meeting of top executives this week in Redmond. NSA released the following statement in response to questions about Microsoft, “NSA’s focus is on targeting the communications of valid foreign intelligence ...

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Luxembourg’s data protection commissioner is investigating Skype over concerns about its secret involvement with the US National Security Agency (NSA) spy program Prism, the Guardian has learned.  The Microsoft-owned internet chat company could potentially face criminal and administrative sanctions, including a ban on passing users’ communications covertly to the US signals intelligence agency.  Skype itself is headquartered in the European country, and could be fined if an investigation concludes that the data sharing is found in violation of the country’s data-protection laws.  Luxembourg’s data-protection commissioner initiated a probe into Skype’s privacy policies following revelations in June about its ties to the NSA. Luxembourg has attracted several large corporations, including Amazon and Netflix, due to its tax structure.  Its constitution enshrines the right to privacy and states that secrecy of correspondence is inviolable unless the law provides otherwise.  Surveillance of communications in Luxembourg can only occur with judicial approval or by authorization ...

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Omar Shahine and Mona Akmal from the SkyDrive team held an AMA on reddit answering user questions.  We’ll be sharing any interesting tidbits. A number of users asked if the NSA could access their files on SkyDrive.  While the questions was not answered directly, it was said that a built-in encryption is not coming to SkyDrive and users could use a third party solution such as TrueCrypt.  Mona Akmal addressed the security on SkyDrive: Your SkyDrive account and your private files are password-protected. When you upload or access private files on SkyDrive, we encrypt information sent between you and our servers using Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) to prevent eavesdroppers from seeing your files when in transit. Once your files are on our servers, we work to prevent hackers from accessing your data by employing sophisticated physical / electronic security measures. We also store multiple copies of your file on different ...

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The National Security Agency (NSA) and the FBI are tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, extracting audio and video chats, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs that enable analysts to track one target or trace a whole network of associates, according to a top-secret document by the Washington Post.  The program, code-named PRISM, has not been made public until now. Equally unusual is the way the NSA extracts what it wants, according to the document: “Collection directly from the servers of these U.S. Service Providers: Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple.” Dropbox, the cloud storage and synchronization service, is described as “coming soon.”  PRISM recruited its first partner, Microsoft, and began six years of rapidly growing collection beneath the surface of a roiling national debate on surveillance and privacy, according to the Post. There has been “continued exponential growth in tasking to Facebook ...

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