The US Government have been sued by Microsoft for the right to inform their customers when a federal agency is looking at their emails, this follows multiple clashes between the technology industry and the country’s government in Washington DC.
The lawsuit argues that the government is violating the US Constitution by preventing Microsoft from notifying thousands of customers about government requests for their emails and other documents. This lawsuit was filed yesterday (13/4) in a federal court in the Western District of Washington. The Department of Justice has yet to comment on the situation.
Many argue that the actions of the government breach the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution, which establishes the right for people and businesses to know if the government searches or seizes their property. The lawsuit also claims the government violated the First Amendment’s right to free speech.
Microsoft claim the storage of data on remote servers, rather than locally on people’s computers has provided a new opening for the government to access electronic data.
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“Using the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, the government is increasingly directing investigations at the parties that store data in the so-called cloud”, Microsoft says.
Over the past 18 months, Microsoft claimed it has received 5,624 legal orders under the ECPA, of which 2,576 attempted to prevent Microsoft from disclosing that the government is seeking customer data through warrants, subpoenas and other requests.
Seperately the tech giants are also fighting a federal warrant by the US government officials to turn over data held on servers in Ireland, which they claim is lawful as part of the ECPA.
Microsoft have argued the US government follow the legal procedure set up in a legal assistance treaty between Ireland and the US.