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Microsoft says it doesn’t voluntarily allow government to extract users’ data

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microsoftSEATTLE — Microsoft said Thursday that if the U.S. government has a voluntary security program “to gather customer data, we don’t participate in it.”

The tech giant’s statement was in response to reports by The Washington Post and the Guardian that U.S. intelligence has a broad secret data-mining program that allows access to central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies — among them Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook and Apple — to extract e-mail, photos and other private consumer communications.

“We provide customer data only when we receive a legally binding order or subpoena to do so, and never on a voluntary basis,” Microsoft said in its statement it issued Thursday night. “In addition we only ever comply with orders for requests about specific accounts or identifiers. If the government has a broader voluntary national security program to gather customer data, we don’t participate in it.

A Google spokesman told The Washington Post: “Google cares deeply about the security of our users’ data. We disclose user data to government in accordance with the law, and we review all such requests carefully. From time to time, people allege that we have created a government ‘back door’ into our systems, but Google does not have a ‘back door’ for the government to access private user data.”

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