By law, Microsoft cannot notify its customers of the government accessing their private information. The company shared that between September 2014 and March 2016, they have received 5,624 demands by Obama’s Department of Justice to access the private information of customers from the Office 365 cloud.
To make matters even worse, nearly half of those demands came with ‘secrecy orders,’ meaning Microsoft could not inform customers that the government was accessing their data. Of those secrecy orders, 1,752 had a ‘no time limit’ secrecy order. This means that the company is prohibited from ever sharing with customers that the government is spying on them.
The tech giant has had enough and is now doing something about it.
Microsoft has filed a lawsuit against the Obama DOJ contending that its customers have the right to know that the government is reading their emails and that the company itself as a right to tell them.
Microsoft brings this case because its customers have a right to know when the government obtains a warrant to read their emails, and because Microsoft has a right to tell them. Yet the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (“ECPA”) allows courts to order Microsoft to keep its customers in the dark when the government seeks their email content or other private information, based solely on a “reason to believe” that disclosure might hinder an investigation.
ABC News tweeted an announcement of the lawsuit by Microsoft against the Obama Department of Justice with a copy of the first page of the filing.
JUST IN: Microsoft sues DOJ for right to notify customers when their data has been accessed by gov't. pic.twitter.com/sKtKdH4w6I
— ABC News (@ABC) April 14, 2016
You can read the full court filing by Microsoft HERE.