While much has been made of Microsoft's next-gen console, and it's laundry list of PR stumbles, most of those instances could be written off to inept management, or a lack of message focus.

The much more serious issue, one that goes beyond memes and corporate misscommunication, is the very real concern that Microsoft may have been forced to hand over confidential user data at the behest of the U.S. Government. Microsoft, and very specifically features to be bundled with the Xbox One, were recently named by The Guardian as participating in the United State's PRISM program. The government program requires companies like Yahoo, Apple, Google, and Microsoft to hand over massive caches of user data in the name of national security. Obviously, this doesn't engender the warmest feelings from users.

Leaked memos purport a continuing collaboration between Microsoft, the NSA, and the FBI. Microsoft, alongside the other companies mentioned, isnsists the leaks are innacurate. Microsoft has even gone as far as stating that the leaked reports of information-gathering are false and they have provided no 'direct data' to the government. The problem with that statement is Microsoft's ownership of Skype.

According to The GuardianSkype signed on with PRISM in 2010, before its absorbtion by Microsoft. "The audio portions of these sessions have been processed correctly all along, but without the accompanying video. Now, analysts will have the complete 'picture'." 

Microsoft releaed a statement on technet blog clarifying their role in the PRISM program:

“We do not provide any government with direct access to emails or instant messages.  Like all providers of communication services, we are sometimes obligated to comply with lawful demands from governments to turn over content for specific accounts, pursuant to a search warrant or court order.”

Furter elaborating the role Skype plays in government surveilance,

“Looking forward, as Internet-based voice and video communications increase, it is clear that governments will have an interest in using (or establishing) legal powers to secure access to this kind of content to investigate crimes or tackle terrorism… Microsoft remains committed to responding only to valid legal demands for specific user account information. We will not provide governments with direct or unfettered access to customer data or encryption keys.”

What do you think? Does this put any worries you may have had to rest? Let us know.

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[via The Guardian, Technet]