Seattle (CBS SEATTLE) — Microsoft’s top legal counsel is calling recently uncovered government surveillance an “advanced persistent threat alongside sophisticated malware and cyber attacks.”

The Dec. 4 post to Microsoft’s official blog, “Protecting customer data from government snooping,” was penned by Microsoft’s General Counsel & Executive Vice President of Legal and Corporate Affairs, Brad Smith. The post states that the company shares the same alarm as its customers regarding government efforts to “surreptitiously collect private customer data.”

Smith vows to quickly expand the company’s encryption and security measures to ensure that governments cannot bypass the “legal processes and protections” owed to customers. He notes the company’s commitment to immediately alerting customers and businesses when the government is seeking to obtain their information.

The chief Microsoft attorney states that they are expanding encryption throughout their services, reinforcing legal protection of customers’ data, and enhancing the transparency of their software code to ensure that their products “do not contain back doors” for government surveillance.

Smith expressed that government interception and collection of customer data without proper legal process is a threat to all online security.

“If true, these efforts threaten to seriously undermine confidence in the security and privacy of online communications,” Smith wrote. “Indeed, government snooping potentially now constitutes an ‘advanced persistent threat’, alongside sophisticated malware and cyber attacks.”

“We all want to live in a world that is safe and secure, but we also want to live in a country that is protected by the Constitution,” wrote Smith.

“We want to ensure that important questions about government access are decided by courts rather than dictated by technological might. And we’re focused on applying new safeguards worldwide, recognizing the global nature of these issues and challenges.”

Following recent stories about NSA and U.K. spying agency tactics, Google created a system called “Perfect Forward Secrecy” to enhance the encryption of their customers’ information.


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