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Microsoft just took a big stand against the government over user privacy

Microsoft Vs DOJ Secrecy Orders

Apple isn’t the only company that’s fighting with the government over user privacy these days. Via GeekWire, Microsoft has sued the United States Department of Justice and has asked a court to declare the government’s secrecy orders as unconstitutional. Microsoft says it objects to orders issued by the DOJ that say the company cannot inform customers when law enforcement officials are seeking access to customer information and data.

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Microsoft’s suit was filed with the U.S. District Court in Seattle on Thursday and it is targeting Section 2705(b) of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which grants the government power to issue secrecy orders that bar companies from informing customers that they are being targeted in investigations.

“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,” Microsoft writes in its complaint. “People do not give up their rights when they move their private information from physical storage to the cloud. Microsoft therefore asks the Court to declare that Section 2705(b) is unconstitutional on its face.”

In its complaint, Microsoft claims it has received 2,600 secrecy orders over just the past year and a half, and it says a big majority of them don’t have definitive end dates. In other words, even if you’re exonerated by the government’s investigations, in most cases Microsoft is still barred from telling you about it.

Microsoft chief legal officer Brad Smith on Thursday wrote a post on Microsoft’s official blog further explaining the company’s stance — check it out for yourself at this link.

Prior to joining BGR as News Editor, Brad Reed spent five years covering the wireless industry for Network World. His first smartphone was a BlackBerry but he has since become a loyal Android user.