Microsoft vows to keep fighting gag orders on U.S. government surveillance of customers despite legal setback
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Microsoft vows to keep fighting gag orders on U.S. government surveillance of customers despite legal setback

For years, Microsoft has been going to bat with the government over gag orders that forestall the cloud supplier from notifying customers when regulation enforcement seizes their knowledge. Despite a legal setback revealed Wednesday, Microsoft says it received’t let up.

In a brand new blog post, Common Counsel Dev Stahlkopf vowed to proceed fighting to notify one of Microsoft’s massive enterprise customers a couple of warrant issued by a federal decide in New York. The warrant instructs Microsoft to flip over “emails, textual content messages and voicemails” — together with different knowledge — that belong to the shopper however are saved on Microsoft servers, in accordance to the criticism, which was unsealed Wednesday.

Microsoft filed a lawsuit over the warrant in 2018, claiming the secrecy order stopping the corporate from notifying its buyer was too broad.

“We argued to the courtroom that there have to be an govt or consultant of the corporate (our buyer) — which has hundreds of staff — who could be notified of the warrant’s existence, with out jeopardizing the federal regulation enforcement investigation,” Stahlkopf wrote within the weblog publish.

A decrease courtroom denied Microsoft’s problem. The corporate is interesting the order and plans to escalate the difficulty to increased courts if mandatory.

Microsoft believes that its cloud customers have a proper to know when their data is seized by the government, simply as they might if regulation enforcement officers served a warrant on their houses.

“We imagine strongly that these elementary protections shouldn’t disappear simply because customers retailer their knowledge within the cloud moderately than in file cupboards or desk drawer,” Stahlkopf mentioned within the weblog publish.

The criticism doesn’t establish the shopper on the middle of the dispute. It does say that the government claims the account holders dedicated wire fraud, cash laundering, and conspiracy with one other multinational company to ship U.S. items to “[a company] in [a foreign country], in contravention of U.S. sanctions.”

Microsoft has sued the government over these sorts of gag orders a number of occasions. Its most high-profile lawsuit was filed in 2016 in U.S. District Courtroom in Seattle. Microsoft requested a federal decide to declare unconstitutional the availability of federal regulation permitting the secrecy orders.

In 2017, Microsoft dropped the case after the Justice Division’s introduced a brand new binding coverage requiring prosecutors to “conduct an individualized and significant evaluation concerning the necessity for cover from disclosure” prior to looking for a gag order and to “solely search an order when circumstances require.”

Despite that coverage, Microsoft nonetheless believes “there are occasions when these orders go too far,” in accordance to Stahlkopf.

“In these instances, we’ll litigate to shield our customers’ rights,” he mentioned.

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