Microsoft sues US government over data requests

By Beth Nyaga

Microsoft is suing the US government over the right to tell its users when federal agencies want access to private data.

It says keeping access requests secret is against the US constitution, which states that individuals should be made aware if the government searches or seizes their property.

Microsoft said 5,624 requests for data were made in the past 18 months, and almost half came with a court order forcing the company to keep the demand secret.

“People do not give up their rights when they move their private information from physical storage to the cloud,” Microsoft said in the lawsuit, according to the Reuters N.ews Agency.

Microsoft added that it felt the government “exploited the transition to cloud computing as a means of expanding its power to conduct secret investigations”.

The US Department of Justice has not yet commented.

The case is the latest row pitting US tech giants against the government – with Microsoft rival Apple calling for Congress to take the lead in addressing the wider issue of balancing privacy with national security.

Microsoft’s case centres on the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), a 30-year-old law several tech firms feel is outdated and being abused.

In a blog post, Microsoft’s president and chief legal officer Brad Smith said suing the US government was not something the company took lightly.

“We believe that with rare exceptions, consumers and businesses have a right to know when the government accesses their emails or records,” Smith wrote.

Source: BBC Technology


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