microsoft sues U.S governmet over data requests
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Microsoft sues US Government over Data Requests

The Microsoft sues US Government over Data Requests is the battle that starts and this not a new  clash between them. The major tech company Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) and the US Government again are at odds now, the clashes over the privacy between technology industry and Washington has the series and now the latest one is Microsoft has sued the US government for the right to tell or inform its customers when a federal agency is looking at their E-mails. The Microsoft Corp has filed the lawsuit on Thursday against the Justice Department and claiming that the government is violating the Constitution of U.S by preventing the Microsoft from notifying or informing thousands of customers about the Government request for their E-mails and also for their other Documents.

The U.S Department of Justice Spokesman refused to comment.

The action of Government contravene the Fourth Amendment, which ascertains the rights for the people and businesses to have the knowledge if the government searches or seizes their property, suit argues, and the Microsoft’s First Amendment right for the free speech.

The center of attention of the Microsoft’s suit is on the storage of the data on remote servers rather than locally on the people’s computers, which Microsoft’s says has offering a new opening for the government to access the electronic data.

Using the ECPA- Electronic Communications Privacy Act the government is adding directing investigations on the parties that stocks data in the so called cloud, says the Microsoft in lawsuit. This law is 30 year old law and has drawn scrutiny from the privacy advocates and technology companies who state that it was written before the rise of the Commercial Internet and therefore it is now outdated.

Microsoft says in the lawsuit that, “People do not give up their rights when they move their private information from physical storage to the cloud”. Microsoft also adds that the government “has exploited the transition to cloud computing as a means of expanding its power to conduct secret investigations.”


The lawsuit shows the newest face in the battle between the U.S Government and the Technology companies over how much the private business should support or assist government surveillance.

After filed the suit the Microsoft is paying more prominent role in that battle, leaded by Apple Inc (AAPL.O) in the recent months due to the Government’s attempts to obtain the company to write software to unlock an iPhone that is used by one of the shooters in San Bernardino, California in a December massacre.

Apple backed by the big technology companies the Microsoft also including in the list, had complained that the cooperating would turn businesses in to the arms of the state.

Brad Smith Chief Legal Officer of Microsoft in an interview which has taken on telephone after the suit filed, said, “Just as Apple was the company in the last case and we stood with Apple, we expect other tech companies to stand with us.”

Microsoft in its complaint says over the past 18 months we received 5,624 legal orders under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) of which 2,576 prevented the Microsoft from revealing that government is searching customer data through the warrants, subpoenas and the other requests. Microsoft said that most of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) requests apply from the individual’s side not from the company’s sides, and not a fix end date provided to the secrecy provision.

Two years ago Microsoft and other tech companies won the right to reveal the number of the government demands for the data they receive. In this case requesting to allow to notify the individual businesses and also the people that the government seeking the information about them.

The companies of U.S are now under pressure to prove that they are helping defend consumer privacy. In 2013 Edward Snowden the former government contractor revealed that the government as a routinely or normally conducted extensive phone and also internet surveillance at much higher and greater quantity than believed. The lawsuit from the Microsoft comes just after a U.S. congressional panel that voted unanimously to the advance a level of reforms to the ECPA.

Microsoft is fighting against the U.S government warrant to turn over data held in the server in Ireland. The government of U.S argues it is lawful under another part of ECPA, but the Microsoft says and argues that the government of U.S. needs to follow a procedure outlined in a legal assistance treaty in between the Ireland and U.S.

The case between Microsoft Corp and the U.S government is in the Department of Justice in the United States District Court, Washington.

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Sajida Kashif

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