As the spotlight continues to be on tech companies and the way they handle customer information, Microsoft wants to highlight its commitment to user privacy. In a post, the company points to three notable cases where it fought authorities to prevent access to customer information.
Microsoft has often positioned itself as a champion of user privacy, even if sometimes the company's decisions seem to go against that initiative. Still, in terms of tech giants, Microsoft is not as outright nefarious with user information as companies like Facebook and Google.
Microsoft's position is clear… the company believes users should be told when such requests are made. U.S. authorities would prefer requests are kept secret. Over the last year, Microsoft has not complied with three notable information requests from the government.
Firstly, a federal court case in Maryland aimed to stop Microsoft revealing details of an investigation to a customer whose data was being access. Microsoft challenged the ruling and won in January 2020.
Only this week have the court documents been made public. The name of the company under investigation has not been named. Microsoft confirms it handed over data but later challenged the efforts to not inform the customer.
Next up is a case where Microsoft challenged a New York federal court ruling, forcing the government to inform a customer of an investigation last October.
The last case is a longer battle, one which Microsoft has been fighting for two years. Also from federal court in New York, Microsoft's challenge to reveal U.S. government access to customer data has been backed by industry giants Apple, Google, and Amazon.
Discussing its ongoing commitment to keep customers informed, Microsoft says the following:
“We believe strongly that the government should be empowered to solve crime and keep the public safe, and we appreciate that law enforcement may sometimes need secrecy during an investigation. But secrecy orders are not necessary in cases where the data belongs to large and sophisticated organizations where someone can be notified without creating significant risk to the government's investigation.
[…] Today, businesses increasingly store their records in the cloud, harnessing the immense computing power the cloud provides. Some law enforcement authorities have tried to exploit this migration of business data to the cloud by issuing secret legal process requiring the cloud provider to produce the company's data – and then obtaining a secrecy order to silence the provider. This avoids the notice that businesses have historically received when law enforcement authorities seize their property. Congress could help by updating the rules under ECPA to align with the notice requirements for warrants that apply to physical searches. Now, more than ever, businesses should not be at a disadvantage simply because they store their data in the cloud.”
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