DOJ: Microsoft isn’t harmed when it can’t tell users what data we want

Enlarge (credit: Stephen Brashear / Getty Images News)

A federal judge in Seattle is set to hear arguments Monday morning from the Department of Justice as to why he should halt Microsoft’s efforts to allow it to tell users, in most cases, when the government demands customer information.

In recent years, Microsoft has been rather outspoken against what it views as overbroad government surveillance and has taken the government to court as needed. This case, known as Microsoft v. Department of Justice, marks yet another instance of those challenges. 

As of now, Microsoft says, when the government presents it with legal demands for user data held in online storage, those court orders often come with a gag order that has no end date—which it claims is a breach of the First and Fourth Amendments. The company compares this policy to older government attempts to access purely analog information (such as paper documents in a file cabinet), where the “government had to give notice when it sought private information and communications, except in the rarest of circumstances.”

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