SAP denies building backdoors for NSA

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SAP denies building backdoors for NSA

Says it doesn't customise for specific clients.

Software giant SAP has denied reports that it is working with the US National Security Agency to support the agency's mass surveillance capabilities within its own big data technologies.

The company over the weekend responded to recent reports in German media about a partnership with the NSA relating to its HANA in-memory database platform and other technologies, saying the reports were "misleading and flawed".

SAP is listed as one of the NSA's contractors alongside Raytheon, Lockheed Martin and Northcorp, according to the reports.

The reports highlighted the role SAP subsidiaries - such as SAP National Security Services 2 in the US, which serves government clients  - had in supporting the surveillance activities of law enforcement agencies with SAP's Inxight, Sybase and HANA products.

Sybase's largest customer is the NSA, according to the reports. 

The HANA software allows for the processing of huge volumes of data, which was attractive to law enforcement agencies for surveillance and data collection purposes, the reports stated.

But SAP CEO Bill McDermott denied the claims, and said the company did not customise its software for specific clients.

"There are no so-called backdoors built into SAP software and customer data cannot be retrieved externally. No company is more committed to data privacy and security than SAP," he said in a statement.

McDermott said it was "unquestionably" in SAP's interest to offer software to public agencies "as they look to improve outcomes through innovation".

"The subsidiaries we have created to work with governmental organisations in the US and elsewhere are independently managed and are reviewed by independent external auditors. Claims that this setup allows access to customer data are false," he said.

"Technology is one of the means to ensure our safety and to protect people’s lives. If our technology contributes to upholding a safe, free and open society, we are honoured by this and committed to doing so with the utmost integrity."

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