On Thursday 14th April, Microsoft filed a complaint against Government of United States exclusively naming Attorney General Loretta Lynch, in Washington District Court. The tech giant has claimed that, for the past 18 months law enforcement agencies have forced Microsoft to stay silent on the 2,576 email search demands, 70% of which involved indefinite gag-orders. Microsoft demands the court declares section 2705(b) to be unconstitutional, allowing users to get notified instantly when their email are accessed.
The Microsoft V. Justice case has been filed! Finally someone stepped up
— AJ Reyes (@_itsajreyes) April 15, 2016
Microsoft Court Filling
According to the federal complaint, the US government has taken unconstitutional advantages of leading technological trends, that involves storage of customer personal-data on cloud servers rather than physical devices. According to traditional search and wiretap laws, authorities are required to notify users after a certain period of time. But, in reality users weren’t notified in more than 2,500 cases.
Microsoft now wants the Judge to order the statute to be unconstitutional, which allows authorities to get indefinite gag orders on warrants to search user emails. Government solicitors have countered the allegations and stated that doing so will alarm the suspects involved in the criminal investigations.
Overview of the Court Filing
Following are the key aspects of Microsoft court filling:
- Microsoft wants the court to declare Section 2705(b) to be unconstitutional.
- Customers have the right to know when authorities search their emails.
- Before the digital age, majority of user personal data was stored in paper work, and authorities had to secure court orders when they searched through private information.
- Presently data is stored in emails and documents on remote servers.
- Government has exploited the transition to cloud storage environment.
After being taunted for being in bed with the NSA and other US security agencies, this may well be a publicity stunt from Microsoft to keep the critics quite. Microsoft founder Bill Gates has openly admitted that the company will keep supporting surveillance mechanisms while bringing more transparency to the process. The General Counsel for Microsoft, Brad Smith, has this to say on the issue in his blog post:
“We view this case as similar to the other three that we have filed,”… “It involves the fundamental right of people and businesses to know when the government is accessing their content and our right to share this information with them.”