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Microsoft To Show Source Code To Brazilian Officials

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

Amid concern of spy backdoors in its software, Microsoft opens code inspection centre in Brazil

Microsoft has officially opened a ‘Transparency Center’ in Brasilia, the capital of Brazil, in an effort assuage concerns that its software contains backdoors for US intelligence agencies.

The move comes in the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations in 2013 about widespread NSA surveillance of both US allies and other nations.

Code Inspection

brazil olympicsMicrosoft’s decision to open its fourth transparency centre in Brazil will allow experts from the Latin American and Caribbean governments to inspect Microsoft’s source code.

According to Reuters, the centre in Brasilia contains reinforced walls and comes with strict security procedures, including the banning on anyone bringing in any electronic devices. It is understood that local servers, with no Internet access, can display copies of up to 50 million lines of code for its email and server products.

These copies are later deleted, and the government experts can use “software tools” to examine the source code.

And Reuters said that already the site has been visited by officials including the speaker of Brazil’s Congress.

The opening of the centre comes after Snowden disclosed that the United States had spied on communications including those of former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.

“This centre is aimed at showing that there are no traps, it is a good step,” an unnamed Brazilian government official is quoted as saying

There is little doubt that the Snowden revelations have been highly damaging to American software companies. The Brazilian ‘Transparency Center’ is reportedly Redmond’s fourth such centre.

It has already established other code inspection sites in other parts of the world. The first site was located at its Redmond, Washington headquarters in 2014. Other sites are located in Brussels and Singapore.

Another ‘Transparency Center’ is planned to open in Beijing next month.

China had demanded as far back as January 2015 that foreign firms must allow for their source code to be inspected.

The centres allow for face-to-face discussions between government experts and developers. “Governments can verify for themselves that there are no back doors,” Mark Estberg, senior director of Microsoft’s global government security program was quoted as saying.

Spying Concerns

The use of secure sites like these to allow governments and other agencies to examine a supplier’s source code is not a new event.

Chinese networking equipment supplier Huawei for example established a Cyber Security Evaluation Centre in late 2010. It was given official government clearance in 2013.

 

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