The Suspicion remains
Does Microsoft support US intelligence?
February 20, 2000
The French Defense Ministry suspects software giant Microsoft of espionage. That was reported in the Parisian daily newspaper, "Liberation." The U.S. corporation dismissed similar accusations in September of last year.
Washington - "Uncle Sam" systematically reads confidential commercial information on the internet, reported "Focus" magazine. Leftwing liberal publication "Liberation" has alleged that the Microsoft computer corporation is giving him a hand. The business out of Redmond, Washington, has denied this accusation. But it is not going to be silent. The software giant, accused by the administration in Washington of being a monopolist, must therefore not only defend itself against the danger of breaking up, but also against harm to its image.
When the suspicion of cooperation was first voiced in September, a Microsoft security expert had already anticipated what was to come, "We were going to have to pay for that by and by." Mathematician and programmer Andrew Fernandes of the U.S. company Cryptonym Corporation had discovered and revealed a new digital key in the Microsoft Windows system with the ominous designation of "NSAkey." He concluded that it was the key of the American National Security Agency (NSA) to every PC which worked with windows.
According to Microsoft that was not true. It was only a new backup for the encryption system. The term "NSAkey" was said to only document that the software was following American export and security regulations. These regulations are monitored by the NSA. Therefore there was no secret prying and no disreputable liaison with the "secret agents" - just an unfortunate selection of name which gave fodder to the "conspiracy theorists."
"Liberation" further presumed that NSA members could sit in directly on the source with the development teams. "Focus" made mention of a study done on commission for the European Parliament, one of its authors, the Parisian scientists Franck Leprevost, and the Germany EU Representative Ilka Schroeder (Buendnis 90/Greens). They found, "The U.S. giants Microsoft, Netscape and Lotus arrange their export software so as to enable U.S. intelligence access to e-mails."
The National Security Agency (NSA) has been under suspicion of commercial espionage for a long time. The superpower's central eavesdropping and decrypting agency has about 20,000 employees, according to unofficial statements a budget of eight billion dollars and has the most modern computers available.
Mainly the area of high technology has a magical force of attraction. The chief of German Constitutional Security, Peter Frisch, spoke at the end of October not only about eastern, but also about "western and friendly intelligence services gathering commercial information through conspiratorial methods."
The NSA data collection station in Bad Aibling, Bavaria, has especially fallen into the crosshairs of criticism in Germany. Since the Second World War, it is regarded as one of the most important support points of electronic information gathering in the USA. Ernst Uhrlau, intelligence coordinator in the federal chancellory, stated that the Americans are not spying on Germany industry from there.
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