Microsoft brings legal charges against US government, when federal agents try to access confidential information of customers which is against the US constitution.
US constitution states that government should inform respective individual before accessing their private data. According to Microsoft, 5,624 appeals were made to access data since last 18 months, and in that nearly half of them were accompanied by secrecy orders requesting company to keep it confidential.
Microsoft addressed in the lawsuit that “People won’t back down to let go their privilege while transferring their personal data from physical storage to cloud and Government is taking full advantage over transition made to cloud computing, so as to extend its power and perform secret investigations”.
By filing the suit against government Microsoft takes prominent role in the battle with apple by approaching congress to take lead in addressing the issue related to privacy and security. Microsoft suit points on 30 year old law of Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) which is too old and violated. Microsoft’s president and chief legal officer Brad Smith mentioned in a blog post that “suing US government is not a small issue to take it calmly”.
It has become routine for the US government to issue orders that require email providers to hide these kinds of legal demands. Microsoft acknowledged that in some cases investigations should be conducted secretly so as to keep people safe and prevent evidence from being destroyed. Most of the Tech giants are unaware of ECPA as it was formed before the evolution of internet Era. Act can be enhanced as soon as US congressional committee votes via various means.
Microsoft expects sensible rules to be included in the Act so that it can notify more customers regarding their action taken in protecting the private data. Mr Smith addressed that “The request should be extended only if there is a sensible reason to justify secrecy order or else they should inform customer about what is being happened”.
Microsoft protest depicts that it has received numerous cases that are illegal and are against the First amendment rights. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) which battles for the rights of customers encourages and supports the action taken by the Microsoft. EFF staff attorney Andrew Crocker mentioned in email that “We appreciate Microsoft for protesting government orders which restricts companies by being clear to their customers regarding their data access by government. Microsoft Corp filed this suit against US government in the United States District Court, which is located at Western District of Washington.
In addition to that communication companies like Time Warner Cable Inc., Sprint Corp and AT&T Inc. frequently issue transparency reports that reveals the number of requests made by government to access private data of customers.