Microsoft sues US Over Secret Customer Data Requests
On Thursday, Microsoft Corp. filed a lawsuit in federal court against the Department of Justice and its head, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, over the government’s data requests. The lawsuit was filed in a Seattle court under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) of 1986.
“People do not give up their rights when they move their private information from physical storage to the cloud,”
The lawsuit reads.
Microsoft said the U.S. Justice Department has asked for customer data for over 5,624 times between September 2014 and March 2016. Half of them — 2,576 — came with a court order forcing Microsoft to keep the demand secret.
According to Microsoft’s president and chief legal officer Brad Smith, the company didn’t take lightly to the matter of suing the US government.
“We believe that with rare exceptions, consumers and businesses have a right to know when the government accesses their emails or records,”
Brad Smith said wrote in a blog post.
“Yet it’s becoming routine for the US government to issue orders that require email providers to keep these types of legal demands secret. We believe that this goes too far and we are asking the courts to address the situation.”
He added that Microsoft admits that investigations needed to remain secret in order to prevent evidence from being destroyed or keep people safe in some cases. However, he also said the company questions whether all these orders are grounded in specific facts that truly need to be kept secret. In fact, it appears that the issuance of secrecy orders has become too routine.