Microsoft Files Case Challenging Government Secrecy Orders

April 14, 2016

Lawsuit Challenges Government’s Overuse of Secrecy Orders That Block Technology Companies From Telling Customers When the Government Wants to Access Their Data or Email

Brad Smith, President and Chief Legal Officer at Microsoft

(Seattle WA, Thursday, April 14, 2016) –  Today at the U.S. District Court in Seattle, Microsoft filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government. The lawsuit seeks to stop broad and indefinite secrecy orders that block Microsoft from telling customers when the government requests their email and other content.  

In the suit, Microsoft argues these secrecy orders violate Microsoft’s First Amendment right to free speech because they stop the company from communicating with customers, and they violate customers’ Fourth Amendment right from unreasonable search and seizure of their email.

Microsoft notes there are times when secrecy is appropriate, but provides data showing secrecy is over-used today and that in many cases secrecy is imposed permanently. When people and businesses are never informed of requests for their data, they lose the ability to stand up for their own rights.

This case marks the fourth public lawsuit that Microsoft has filed against the U.S. government related to customers’ right to privacy and transparency, including the company’s pending litigation challenging a U.S. search warrant for customer emails in Ireland.

For more information, please read New Lawsuit to Increase Transparency of U.S. Data Requests, by Brad Smith, Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer. 

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