The maker of the world's most popular computer operating system said it had never turned over any such data under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and did not believe that authorities are entitled to the information if it is stored abroad. Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith said Redmond was committing contractually to not turning it over without litigating that issue. Microsoft promised to increase the amount of encryption it uses for internal traffic, following similar moves by Google and Yahoo.
Smith said Microsoft was caught by surprise by reports in The Washington Post, based on documents leaked by former contractor Edward Snowden that the NSA had successfully penetrated the other companies and perhaps targeted it as well. Addressing another concern, a spokeswoman said the company did not believe it could be ordered to install spyware on a user's machine and that Microsoft would fight any such directive in court.
Microsoft said it would also expand the use of regional centres that allow governments worried about US "back doors" in its software to inspect the source code.