There's two distinct sides to the Snowden issue. Half blame him and half idolize him. And, that was made clear over Twitter during the recent televised interview so dramatically sensationalized by Brian Williams and NBC. I sat through the interview, hoping to glean enough good content to cover it in an article, but the onslaught of commercial breaks and Brian William's integrated glory spots turned something potentially useful into horrible drivel. If anyone remembers it, Geraldo Rivera's much ballyhooed Al Capone vault reveal (which uncovered absolutely nothing) produced more. NBC should be ashamed.
But, no matter which side of the stream you camp on, there's no one that can argue that the information uncovered about the NSA and the US Government has changed the world. And, of course, the continuing lethargy of the Obama administration to curb privacy intrusions and construct real reform has led to further trust issues.
Since the Snowden information first went public, Microsoft and other vendors, named in stolen documents, have set about to solicit the legal system and make public their beliefs on how the government needs to address its lack of remorse for intruding into the lives of citizens worldwide. And, as more Snowden information continues to trickle out, it's even more vital that someone takes up and emboldens the cause.
Microsoft has been very vocal over the last year about how it believes things should change. And, it's very good to see the company not give up. In some respects, it seems, Microsoft is fighting for all of us.
In a post on June 4th, Microsoft's Brad Smith, General Counsel & Executive Vice President, Legal & Corporate Affairs, has outlined 5 separate areas that the US government still has not acted upon and that need significant reform and applied the areas to the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution.
Those 5 areas are:
- Recognize that U.S. search warrants end at U.S. borders
- End bulk collection
- Reform the FISA Court
- Commit not to hack data centers or cables
- Continue to increase transparency
Obviously, Microsoft has a stake in these changes, considering that the company is intent on building revenue from its Cloud services. The reforms would make the Cloud a much safer and more trustworthy place. Microsoft has stated before that the Cloud economy is being severely hampered by the Obama administration's foot-dragging. You would think that an administration that shifts jobless numbers in its favor like a Vegas magician shifts focus away from the hand that's doing the real work, would want to grasp hold of something that could have positive impact on the economy without having to manipulate numbers. It takes a lot more effort to rework figures than to just be truthful with the facts.
So, some people will argue that Microsoft is doing this with only itself in mind, but in the end, the changes will benefit us all. I, for one, welcome Microsoft's tireless work and truly hope it doesn't take a regime change before positive steps are taken.