According to an article published on Thursday by the British newspaper, internal National Security Agency memos show that Microsoft actually helped the federal government find a way to decrypt messages sent over select platforms, including Outlook.com Web chat, Hotmail email service, and Skype.
The Guardian wrote that Snowden, the 30-year-old former systems administrator for NSA contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, provided the paper with files detailing a sophisticated relationship between America’s intelligence sector and Silicon Valley.
The documents, which are reportedly marked top-secret, come in the wake of other high-profile disclosures attributed to Snowden since he first started collaborating with the paper for articles published beginning June 6. The United States government has since indicted Snowden under the Espionage Act, and he has requested asylum from no fewer than 20 foreign nations.
Thursday’s article is authored by Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, two journalists who interviewed Snowden at length before he publicly revealed himself to be the source of the NSA leaks. They are joined by co-authors Ewen MacAskill, Spencer Ackerman and Dominic Rushe, who wrote that the classified documents not only reveal the degree in which Microsoft worked with the feds, but also detail the PRISM internet surveillance program. The US government's relationships with tech companies are also included in the documents, according to the journalists.
“The latest NSA revelations further expose the tensions between Silicon Valley and the Obama administration,” the journalists wrote. “All the major tech firms are lobbying the government to allow them to disclose more fully the extent and nature of their cooperation with the NSA to meet their customers' privacy concerns. Privately, tech executives are at pains to distance themselves from claims of collaboration and teamwork given by the NSA documents, and insist the process is driven by legal compulsion.”
In the case of Microsoft, however, it appears as if the Bill Gates-founded tech company went out of its way to assist federal investigators.