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Analysis: Microsoft Spy Guide FAQs

What does Microsoft know about you?

The legalese

The last page of the document details the legal procedures required to obtain Microsoft's information, but with warrantless wiretapping such a big fad lately - as evidenced lately by Google's shady dealings with the NSA - one never knows how much red tape the government can snip through to get what it wants.

A brief case history

It's uncertain as to how John Young, Cryptome's proprietor, obtained The Global Criminal Compliance Handbook; what's certain is that it caught Microsoft's attention. The corporation quickly filed a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) notice alleging copyright infringement.

In 1998, the DMCA criminalised production and dissemination of high-tech methods intended to skirt protections such as DRM that control access to copyrighted works. It also criminalises the act of circumventing an access control, whether or not there is actual infringement of copyright itself.

Some organisations have a problem with Microsoft's use of the DMCA in this case. "The Electronic Frontier Foundation finds it troubling that copyright law is being invoked here. Microsoft doesn't sell this manual. There's no market for this work. It's not a copyright issue. John [Young's] copying of it is fair use. We don't do this anywhere else in speech law," Cindy Cohn of the Electronic Frontier Foundation told ReadWriteWeb.

Cohn stated that in cases involving libel or trade secrets there is a procedure of going to court, making a case, and getting an injunction - filing a DMCA complaint "makes censorship easy".

Either way, Microsoft prevailed. Cryptome's host, Network Solutions, tore the site down. Young filed a counterclaim yesterday.

Personally, I feel the Global Criminal Compliance Handbook isn't as nightmarish as some may paint it (save for the cloud computing part). Microsoft needs to have measures to work with the US government in cases of danger, plain and simple. But with so much data out there, so much of it 'owned' by Microsoft, I cannot help but feel exposed and vulnerable.

And for the sake of internet freedom, it's crucial that Cryptome is released back into the wild. The site serves a clear and important purpose; its latest - and perhaps last - release proves that point.

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