Microsoft retaliates to China’s Windows 8 spying claims

IT security

Microsoft retaliates to China’s Windows 8 spying claims

Warwick Ashford

Microsoft has launched a social media campaign to fight China’s claims that Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system is being used to collect data about Chinese citizens.

A state-backed news report on China's CCTV said Windows 8 was a threat to Chinese cyber security and should not be used because of Microsoft’s links to the US government.

Windows-8.jpg

Yang Min of Fudan University was quoted as saying that Windows 8 posed a “big challenge” to the nation's cyber security efforts.

“Microsoft would no longer open its Windows 8 source code to the Chinese government,” he said. “However, the security scheme of the Windows 8 operating system is designed to provide better access for Microsoft to users' database.”

Ni Guangnan, a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, said: “Your identity, account, contact book, phone numbers – all this data can be put together for big data analysis.”

The TV report came just days after China banned the use of Windows 8 on many government computers and Chinese media firms called for tech firms that aided US spying to face “severe punishment”, according to the BBC.

China's anti-Windows 8 campaign is over Microsoft’s refusal to back down on dropping support for Windows XP, according to Neowin.net.

The 13-year-old operating system is still widely used in China and authorities have been pressing for extended support, but Microsoft claims that 90% of Windows XP copies in use are counterfeit.

Although Microsoft argues that Windows 8 offers better security, commentators have said that if all users of XP in China bought copies of Windows 8, it would give Microsoft a significant revenue boost.

Microsoft has retaliated to Chinese claims of backdoors in Windows 8 and allegations of collusion with the US government by posting strong denials on its Weibo social media account.

Ever since Edward Snowden’s revelations of US National Security Agency internet surveillance, Microsoft has been among several top US technology firms that have consistently denied giving the agency backdoor access to their software and services.

In the posting on Weibo, a Chinese version of Twitter, Microsoft said  it had never:

  • Assisted any government in an attack on another government or clients.
  • Given any government the authority to directly visit its products or services.
  • Provided any backdoor into its products or services.
  • Provided client data or information to the US government or National Security Agency.
  • Concealed any requests from any government for information about its clients.

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