IBM looks to reassure its clients and customers that it has not passed on their data to external sources
Computing giant IBM has told customers that it has not given any of their data to any government agencies such as the NSA currently conducting surveillance activities.
In a company blog post entitled, “A Letter to Our Clients About Government Access to Data”, IBM senior vice president of legal and regulatory affairs and general counsel Robert C. Weber sought to allay fears from the company’s clients that their data may have been passed to external sources, as well as outlining the company’s position when it comes to government data access.
“IBM has not provided client data to the NSA or any other government agency under any surveillance program involving the bulk collection of content or metadata,” Weber wrote, adding that the company does not have “backdoors” in hardware which would allow the NSA itself to gain access to data.
“If the US government were to serve a national security order on IBM to obtain data from an enterprise client and impose a gag order that prohibits IBM from notifying that client, IBM will take appropriate steps to challenge the gag order through judicial action or other means,” he said.
“For decades, clients around the world have trusted IBM with their data. We believe we have earned that trust,” Weber wrote, in response to increased levels of concern from people around the world concerning government snooping into their data, which has been brought to worldwide attention thanks to the continued revelations from the whistleblower Edward Snowden.
In the post, Weber also called for greater transparency concerning government surveillance, saying that, “Data is the next great natural resource, with the potential to improve lives and transform institutions for the better. However, establishing and maintaining the public’s trust in new technologies is essential.”
He also added that IBM would challenge any national security orders to access data stored outside the United States and that any attempts to obtain such data should go through recognised legal channels, such as treaties.
IBM, which is currently undergoing a company-wide $1bn ‘restructuring’ process as it looks to improve the company’s finances and reposition itself in a changing marketplace, is one of several US tech companies hit by the growing government spying scandal. Reuters reports that its sales to China fell by 20 percent in the second half of last year as fears of US government spying led Beijing to encourage state-owned companies to buy China-branded products instead.
Workers at IBM’s Chinese factory in Shenzhen also went on strike last week following the news that their jobs may be at risk following IBM’s announcement it is selling its x86 server business to China’s Lenovo for £1.4bn last month. However, Lenovo has said that it can offer nothing until the deal, which is currently undergoing government and regulatory approval, has been officially ratified.
What do you know about Edward Snowden and the NSA? Take our quiz!