A high-ranking Redmond exec has confirmed that data stored in Microsoft’s cloud – regardless of its actual physical (server) location – cannot be protected against the U.S. Patriot Act.
According to Gordon Frazer, Microsoft maintains its headquarters on American soil. As such, the corporation must fully comply with Federal laws such as the above-mentioned Act.
Although Frazer emphasized “customers would be informed [whenever] possible,” about Federal inspection or interception of cloud-based data, he could not offer an absolute guarantee – especially if Redmond received a gagging order, injunction or U.S. National Security letter.
“Microsoft cannot provide those guarantees,” Frazer toldZDNet. “[Then again], neither can any other [American-based] company.”
It should be noted that the FBI recently seized a number of web servers during a recent data center raid in Reston, Virginia – a facility used by the Swiss-based hosting company Digital One.
The operation knocked several web sites offline, including those run by New York publisher Curbed Network.
“In the night FBI [took] 3 enclosures with equipment plugged into them, possibly including your server – we cannot check it,” DigitalOne CEO Sergej Ostroumow wrote in an official email to clients.
“After [the] FBI’s unprofessional ‘work’ we can not restart our own servers, that’s why our Web site is offline and support doesn’t work.”
Unsurprisingly, the raid was linked to an ongoing investigation of the now-defunct Lulz Security. As I opined earlier, while most Americans probably don’t really care about a few downed sites, the brute force raid executed by the Feds surely doesn’t bode well for the future.
One can’t help but wonder what comes next: mass Gmail seizures, Amazon cloud server confiscations, or perhaps entire data centers carted off in FBI trucks?
Clearly, U.S. law enforcement officials must learn how to minimize “collateral damage” to neutral civilian infrastructure during cyber-related raids. If they don’t, such operations could potentially be as disruptive as those executed by hostile digital infiltrators.