I work for the NSA and I’m a PC

Nowadays, it’s no surprise that the government wants have its hands on everything. From the auto industry to light bulbs to what type of television you can own, government has always sought to meddle with private enterprise. It should come as no surprise, then, that the NSA has been involved with Microsoft in the development of the new operating system Windows 7. According to a report from ComputerWorld.com the NSA has been offering their:

“…unique expertise and operational knowledge of system threats and vulnerabilities to enhance Microsoft’s operating system security guide without constraining the user to perform their everyday tasks, whether those tasks are being performed in the public or private sector.”

The NSA is claiming that their involvement is intended to assist the new operating system develop both security measures as and allow for faster integration into current government systems. They offered similar services during the development of Windows Vista and also provided security consulting for Windows XP and 2000.

This collaboration has drawn criticism from some electronic privacy groups. They are claiming that the NSA being involved in development gives them a unique opportunity to include a backdoor spying measure in the new software. As stated by Marc Rotenberg, director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), the resistance of Microsoft to the NSA’s whims is hard to calibrate:

According to Rotenberg, “…private sector firms are reluctant to oppose these ‘suggestions’ since the US government is also their biggest customer and opposition to the NSA could mean to loss of sales.”

Microsoft has, of course, denied than any such manipulation of their system exists. Others in the cyber security business are claiming the potential public outcry that would result from such a program coming to light is a large enough deterrent to prevent the NSA from using such a back door. But, as we have seen with the wiretapping and telecommunications scandals from the NSA, they are usually able to rely on Congress cleaning up after them. Congress–with support from President Obama— has  passed immunity measures for telecommunications companies implicated in the illegal wiretapping scandal. According to the aforementioned report, the NSA is also negotiating with Apple, Sun Microsystems (Java), and Red Hat (Linux) about being involved in security matters for their new software.

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