The tech world has been in court fights with the government more than usual the past few months. The most notable case is that of Apple and the FBI which was dubbed the FBIOS fight.
In another case brought up by a tech giant firm, Microsoft is suing the Department of Justice over a federal which secretly allows the government to secretly access all documents held in the cloud which might be related to criminal investigations. Microsoft claims that the law imposes an unconstitutional gag order which stops the company from notifying customers if their data has been compromised by the government.
The lawsuit was filed in a federal court in the United States capital, Washington. Microsoft says the government is stopping it from notifying the numerous thousands of their clients that will be affected by the government’s intervention in the customers’ emails and other data. Microsoft claims the refusal is a violation of the constitution.
The suit shows that Microsoft received 5,624 demands from the federal department, which wanted customer information in the past 18 months. Nearly half of the orders and demands cane with a gag order, which made Microsoft not tell the users involved that they were being investigated by the federal government. The company also said 1,752 of those secrecy orders which they received came with no time limit at all which meant they can never probably tell the users involved of the intrusion by the government. The company also noted that even though they ‘always complied with legally binding orders’ it was becoming increasingly hard to follow.
Microsoft, in the suit, claims that the government has sought and executed warrants for such electronic communications more times than they have done so in cases of physical documents and communications. This is because they believe they can do whatever they want when it comes to the digital because there is a veil of secrecy. A Justice of Department spokesperson said they were reviewing the suit that Microsoft had filed.
It is however unclear how many times the government stopped Microsoft and any other tech company from notifying their customers if they are under any investigations. Officials don’t disclose any details of such requests.
The government’s actions are a violation of both the First Amendment and the Fourth Amendment. The Fourth Amendment establishes that anyone should be “secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.”
Microsoft alleges that federal agencies are focusing on stored data which is on remote servers, rather than people’s computers. Microsoft says this has given the government new ways into accessing electronic data.
People do not give up their rights when they move their private information from physical storage to the cloud,” Microsoft says in the lawsuit. It adds that the government “has exploited the transition to cloud computing as a means of expanding its power to conduct secret investigations.”
This new battle between Microsoft and the Department of Justice shows how the safety and security battle between the tech world and the government might just go on for a very long time.
Microsoft supported Apple’s decision when they (Apple) were fighting against the FBI.
Arguments have not yet been scheduled.