14 April 2016, San Francisco:
Microsoft is suing the U.S. government over a federal law that allows authorities to examine customer emails or online files without the individual’s knowledge.
Microsoft says in its suit that it received 5,624 federal demands for customer information in the past 18 months, and nearly half—2,576—came with gag orders preventing the company from telling customers the government was looking at their data. Although the company “always complies with legally binding orders,” it said that 1,752 of those secrecy orders had no time limit, so it might never be able to tell customers that the government obtained their digital files.
Microsoft is challenging the Section 2705(b) of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which allows the government to search for and obtain orders without allowing the company to inform the concerned customer. In its complaint, Microsoft writes, “This statute violates both the Fourth Amendment, which affords people and businesses the right to know if the government searches or seizes their property, and the First Amendment, which enshrines Microsoft’s rights to talk to its customers and to discuss how the government conducts its investigations—subject only to restraints narrowly tailored to serve compelling government interests.”
Cases such as Microsoft’s action against the Justice Department can take years to make their way through the courts, and some law-enforcement officials have urged Congress to move more quickly and update laws that govern access to data. Some lawmakers are working to pass new laws and revise old ones, but so far there appears to be little appetite in Congress to take action this year.
Source : Microsoft