Former Microsoft Privacy Chief Says He No Longer Trusts The Company

Joel Hruska | | October 1, 2013

Microsoft's onetime Chief Privacy Advisor, Caspar Bowden, has come out with a vote of no-confidence in the company's long-term privacy measures and ability or interest to secure user data in the wake of the NSA's PRISM program. From 2002 - 2011, Bowden was in charge of privacy at Microsoft, and oversaw the company's efforts in that area in more than 40 countries, but claims to have been unaware of the PRISM program's existence while he worked at the company. In the two years since leaving Microsoft, Bowden has ceased carrying a cell phone and become a staunch open source user, claiming that he no longer trusts a program unless he can see the source.

"The public now has to think about the fact that anybody in public life, or person in a position of influence in government, business or bureaucracy, now is thinking about what the NSA knows about them. So how can we trust that the decisions that they make are objective and that they aren't changing the decisions that they make to protect their career? That strikes at any system of representative government." As Bowden goes on to point out, if you aren't a US citizen, you have no protection whatsoever from PRISM.

This is a point that has real potential consequences for any international company...foreign companies, governments, and citizens have no protections of any kind. To the contrary, some of the NSA's documentation explicitly plays up the fact that huge amounts of foreign traffic travels through the United States on a regular basis...

It's not that Microsoft is unique, here. In fact, the situation would be simpler to solve if they were. The problem is that the access the NSA has crafted for itself applies to all companies equally. Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Apple -- your data is as secure as the NSA decides it is, and not one jot more...

Open Health News' Take: 

This is a parallel to a prior posting I made on Open Health News titled, "Why Free Software Is More Important Now Than Ever Before", if not even "another calling" for open source software (OSS).  I commend Bowden for speaking out (or dare I say "whistle blowing") on this issue.

Crawford Rainwater, Blogger @ Open Health News and CEO & President, The Linux ETC Company