Microsoft is set to take on the US Justice Department in court claiming that it is “unconstitutional” to stop a company from informing its customers when their cloud data is being searched by the authorities. Microsoft’s stance is that a customer has the right to know when a government obtains a warrant to search their data but the government gets around this with secrecy orders.
In a complaint filed at a Washington District Court (via The Verge), Microsoft has said: “Microsoft brings this case because its customers have a right to know when the government obtains a warrant to read their emails, and because Microsoft has a right to tell them. As Microsoft’s customers increasingly store their most private and sensitive information in the cloud, the government increasingly seeks (and obtains) secrecy orders.”
According to the filing, over the last eighteen months, federal courts have issued out 2600 secrecy orders to Microsoft, stopping them from speaking out about warrants and the amount of customer data being accessed. Between September 2014 and March 2016, Microsoft had also received 5624 demands for access to customer data.
“The vast majority of these secrecy orders related to consumer accounts and prevent Microsoft from telling affected individuals about the government’s intrusion into their personal affairs; others prevent Microsoft from telling business customers that the government has searched and seized the emails of individual employees of the customer.”
KitGuru Says: This follows on from Apple’s own struggles with the US Justice Department and the FBI, who were demanding that they help unlock iPhones. If Microsoft is successful in this case, it could have a huge affect on the power technology companies hold when it comes to government access to data.