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NSA could have access to data on Microsoft-owned GitHub Featured

The NSA could have access to the code repositories residing on GitHub, which is now owned by Microsoft, if past practices of the Redmond-based software giant are any indicator.

Microsoft announced its acquisition of GitHub on 5 June. The company said at the time that GitHub had about 28 million developers working on 80 million repositories. Microsoft has been one of the bigger code contributors to the site.

The reaction from open-source developers to the acquisition was not exactly been salutary as can be seen from comments on Linux Weekly News.

The possibility that the data on GitHub could now be accessed by the NSA was raised by researcher Mustafa Al-Bassam.

Five years ago, when the first reports based on documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden were published, Microsoft was listed among the companies that were giving the NSA access to internal information.

The Guardian  reported at the time that under the NSA's Prism program, the spy agency had gained direct access to the systems of companies like Google, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and other tech giants.

The report was based on a 41-slide PowerPoint presentation, classified as top-secret and not meant to be seen by any US allies, that was said to be used to train operatives on the program's capabilities.

It said: "Some of the world's largest internet brands are claimed to be part of the information-sharing program since its introduction in 2007. Microsoft – which is currently running an advertising campaign with the slogan "Your privacy is our priority" – was the first, with collection beginning in December 2007."

iTWire contacted Microsoft with the following questions:

"Will the NSA now have access to all the code on GitHub as well, as the company is now owned by Microsoft?

"What is Microsoft's policy on sharing code which resided on GitHub?"

The company responded with a one-liner: "Sorry but Microsoft won't be providing comment on this."

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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

 

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