Skip to main content

Microsoft sues the U.S. federal government over the right to reveal data requests

Microsoft wants to reveal more information on the data requests it gets from the U.S. federal government. Today, the company filed a lawuit claiming the government has violated the First and Fourth Amendments by ordering Microsoft to keep thousands of data requests to the company secret.

In a blog post (opens in new tab), Microsoft's President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith stated:

Over the past 18 months, the U.S. government has required that we maintain secrecy regarding 2,576 legal demands, effectively silencing Microsoft from speaking to customers about warrants or other legal process seeking their data. Notably and even surprisingly, 1,752 of these secrecy orders, or 68 percent of the total, contained no fixed end date at all. This means that we effectively are prohibited forever from telling our customers that the government has obtained their data.We believe these actions violate two of the fundamental rights that have been part of this country since its founding. These lengthy and even permanent secrecy orders violate the Fourth Amendment, which gives people and businesses the right to know if the government searches or seizes their property. They also violate the First Amendment, which guarantees our right to talk to customers about how government action is affecting their data. The constitutional right to free speech is subject only to restraints narrowly tailored to serve compelling governmental interests, a standard that is neither required by the statute being applied nor met by the government in practice here.

Smith said that while there may be cases where secrecy is needed, Microsoft believes the U.S government is taking things too far with many of their data requests. He added that Microsoft did not take this action to sue the government lightly, and said, "We only do so when we believe that critical principles and important practical consequences are at stake." So far the U.S. Justice Department has not commented on Microsoft's lawsuit.

29 Comments
  • Damn right. Good MS... Good.
  • Good
  • We have to stand up against governments and other groups or individuals that are playing bad. Also here in Germany are things that go against natural law as well as men made law. Stupid and dangerous people all over this beautiful planet ...
  • DU HAST!
  • I don't listen to Rammstein, because of their dumb lyrics, sorry ;) But yeah: Ich habe :D
  • Hahaha, to each their own! :-) I didn't know you can say du hast another way, the only German I know is through Rammstein! :D
    Peace!
  • Du hast = you've got
    Ich habe = I've got
    The sound of Rammstein is quite nice, especially on a long road trip, while I enjoy listening to Command & Conquer - Red Alert soundtrack's disc 2 (Cobalt 60, Project Pitchfork, Laibach, The Prodigy ...)
  • Awwww dude, the Red Alert 2 soundtrack is incredible, as was the game!
  • Haha! Yes! That and RA3 are in my Google Music library! Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • True. This case, btw, is a violation of natural law, not man-made law.
  • Good job Microsoft
  • Anonymity is overrated...
  • Well done. Windows Central for Windows 10-Microsoft Lumia 640
  • Right on MS show those ******* government people hows boss! They don't have the right to go trough our personal shat!
  • Good, the biggest threat to the rule of law are the 'can do' officials, deciding contrary to the law
  • This is a problem on both fronts. Microsoft trying to look good against the government but companies are also evil in many forms, for profit always kicks in. Brings us to the siding of the government or the companies.
  • dunno why the down votes since he's right!
  • Since I am an extreme believer of Microsoft like those that down-voted me, I tend to be open-minded to other things as well. Whoever voted me down might come across the same situation where they get down-voted as well, some day.
  • Well, I say instead of siding with one or the other over everything we just evaluate based on each situation.
  • Okay, Microsoft is good for this and the government is bad for this. It won't changes feelings about both but we can take time off to pick one or the other, in the moment.
  • True, but sadly the tax laws for example (was that your financial point?) are made by politicians/lobbyists and companies like Microsoft are acting by the law.
  • Everyone has the capacity for evil. That is why no person or persons should be given too much power over others. Any time a person or group is given power to violate the rights of others, evil will eventually be carried out. We do not need to choose between the government and the companies here, we need to champion individual liberties/rights, which need to be defended against governments, companies, other organizations and individuals.
  • Depends on this one.  If for example we have an iphone of a known terrorist,  and the government wants that unlocked to maybe get information on others,  and other plans etc.  Then it should be done.  If its the government TRYING to get information to incriminate the OWNER of the phone then NO.  Its a double edges sword. 
  • True . I agree what Microsoft is doing. I disagree what Apple is doing.
  • Does this have something to do with the "warrant canary" or is it something else entirely?
     
  • There is a typo its says lawuit i think it shoul say lawsuit.
  • And there is a typo here. "Its" instead of "it." Everyone makes mistakes. Like the movie, or like after-Taco-Bell, let it go. :) Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Microsoft is now a different company than it used to be. Great job!
  • Thank god i don't live in America! But good work Microsoft! You and all other big companies must stand against the goverment of USA! Keep it up!