Microsoft (MSFT) and Google (GOOG) are moving to sue the U.S. government for the right to release more information on the companies' involvement in NSA surveillance programs. Microsoft's outspoken General Counsel Brad Smith wrote today that, with negotiations with the NSA having broken down, Microsoft will move forward "in the hope that the courts will uphold our right to speak more freely." A Google spokesperson: "there is still too much secrecy around these requests."
The Guardian reported last week that the NSA had "paid millions of dollars to cover the [PRISM compliance] costs of major internet companies." The tempest of public attention escalated yesterday, after The Washington Post reported that the U.S. government will pay $278M during the fiscal year to telecommunications firms for clandestine access to their networks.
At stake is consumer perception (and business) of what degree of privacy can be expected from the services provided by tech companies. Microsoft, Google, Apple (AAPL), Yahoo (YHOO), Facebook (FB), AOL, Twitter, and Reddit have all moved to distance themselves from the NSA scandal.
It appears that major tech companies believe transparency is a better option than leaving users to fill in the blanks for themselves.