Microsoft Calls Government Cooperation “Economic Suicide”

This year’s RSA conference has already stirred up a whirlwind of controversy, from the developers leaving to set up their own convention across the street, to CEOs going totally off-script, and now Microsoft’s VP of the Trustworthy Computing Group Scott Charney brazenly taking the stage to deny any and all accusations of cooperation with the US or UK governments in ways that were not strictly above board and approved by the higher court.

They aren’t the first to come out in defense of their company and its reputation, but they’re definitely one of the biggest and the ripest for criticism, so the sentiment isn’t entirely for naught.

In his keynote Charney spoke in a language he hoped everyone could understand; the bottom line:

“If I put a backdoor in our product, our market capitalization goes from $260bn to zero overnight. I can’t even sell it. It’s nuts! Economic suicide! So no backdoors,” he said.

Of course, it’ that very same market cap that could prevent Microsoft from being wholly forthright on the matter. If a company stood to lose billions of dollars by telling the truth, do you think think they’d actually send reps out to events like these to put on a suit and tie and lose half their business in a couple paragraphs or less?

CTO of netsec firm CO3 Bruce Schneider didn’t pull any punches on his critique of the move to sources at The Register

“The best Microsoft can say is that we are secure except for the vulnerabilities that we don’t know about and the ones we are prohibited by law from telling you about. This is the problem. Microsoft might be 100 per cent truthful about this, but they have no way of proving it. Because the NSA has poisoned the environment, we have no reason to believe them.”