March 17, 2014
IBM Denies Any Involvement In NSA Spying Efforts
Peter Suciu for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
IBM denied allegations on Friday that it had cooperated with the NSA. In a letter published to its clients, tech giant IBM attempted to distance itself from the National Security Agency, stating that it had not cooperated with the embattled US spy agency.
The letter was posted on IBM’s “Building a Smarter Planet” Blog, and reportedly written – or at least posted by – Robert C. Weber, IBM senior vice president, legal and regulatory affairs, and general counsel. In the letter, Weber contends that IBM did provide client data to the NSA, or any other government agency under the program known as PRISM; that IBM did not provide client data in any way under any surveillance program that utilizes the bulk collection of content or metadata; and that IBM does not put “backdoors” in its products for the NSA or other agencies.
“IBM is fundamentally an enterprise company, meaning our customers are typically other companies and organizations rather than individual consumers,” Webber wrote. “We serve some of the world’s most successful global corporations, helping them achieve their business goals.
“Our business model sets us apart from many of the companies that have been associated with the surveillance programs that have been disclosed,” he added. “Unlike those companies, IBM’s primary business does not involve providing telephone or Internet-based communication services to the general public. Rather, because the vast majority of our customers are other companies and organizations, we deal mainly with business data. Our client relationships are governed by contract, with clear roles and responsibilities assigned and clearly understood by all parties. To the extent our clients provide us access within their infrastructure to the type of individual communications that reportedly have been the target of the disclosed intelligence programs, such information belongs to our clients.”
Reuters reports that the NSA has “co-opted” more than 140,000 computers since August 2007 to inject them with spyware. This is according to leaked documents provided from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. These documents were published by The Intercept news website last week.
The NSA has called the report “inaccurate” and said that it has not targeted users of global Internet services without appropriate legal authority.
“Reports of indiscriminate computer exploitation operations are simply false,” the agency said as reported by Reuters.
IBM is one of several US tech companies that have come under the microscope as a result of the ongoing US government spying scandal. Reuters also reported that its sales to China fell by 20 percent in the second half of 2013, after the Chinese government in Beijing encouraged state-owned companies to buy Chinese-branded products for fear of US government spying.
There is some irony there as in 2012 the House Intelligence Committee issued a warning to American companies not to do business with Chinese tech firms such as Huawei and ZTE over fears that those companies may have been secretly spying for China.
The allegations of spying have been bad for business and recently Yahoo and Google announced efforts to strengthen the encryption on their respective services PC World reported this weekend.
IBM’s Weber also called on the US government to restore trust.
“Governments should reject short-sighted policies, such as data localization requirements, that do little to improve security but distort markets and lend themselves to protectionist tendencies,” he called out in a service of bullet points on how this might be accomplished.”
“Governments should not subvert commercial technologies, such as encryption, that are intended to protect business data,” he added. “The U.S. government should have a robust debate on surveillance reforms, including new transparency provisions that would allow the public to better understand the scope of intelligence programs and the data collected.”