You've probably seen the "scroogled" ads that Microsoft has run lately attacking Google for its alleged shady privacy policies.

But now, according to The Guardian newspaper in England, information leaked by intelligence fugitive Edward Snowden claims Microsoft not only allowed the National Security Agency (NSA) to access users' information and personal data, but collaborated in a project called Prism!

According to the information, cooperation between numerous leading computer firms and the NSA dates as far back as three years. The information leaked by Snowden shows that:

  • Microsoft helped the NSA to circumvent its encryption to address concerns that the agency would be unable to intercept web chats on the new Outlook.com portal;
  • The company worked with the FBI this year to allow the NSA easier access via Prism to its cloud storage service SkyDrive, which now has more than 250 million users worldwide;
  • Material collected through Prism is routinely shared with the FBI and CIA, with one NSA document describing the program as a "team sport".

Among the other programs that were given NSA access included Skype and Hotmail!

According to The Guardian:

"Since Prism's existence became public, Microsoft and the other companies listed on the NSA documents as providers have denied all knowledge of the program and insisted that the intelligence agencies do not have back doors into their systems."

Despite large campaigns aimed at assuring the public of Microsoft's commitment to their privacy and security across all it's platforms, Snowden's leaked documents come from the highest and most secret levels of the NSA. Despite these assurances from the company, the The Guardian claims:

"But internal NSA newsletters, marked top secret, suggest the co-operation between the intelligence community and the companies is deep and ongoing."

Apparently even encrypting or using security for your private email and communications isn't immune from the eyes of the government. The public relations blow to many of these computer and IT companies could be significant, according to experts.