Microsoft has announced plans to sue to U.S. government over a federal law that permits officials to access customer emails or online data without the customer’s knowledge.
This lawsuit comes at a time where Apple has fiercely defended customers’ rights by refusing to unlock the phone of Syed Farook, the San Bernardino terrorist, even when ordered to do so by the courts.
Microsoft, however, is not arguing against a single incident, but rather claiming that the government is abusing the Electronic Communications Privacy Act. The government apparently has permitted officials to obtain court orders demanding tech companies to turn over customer files and other data. The companies have so far been ordered to not notify the customer that the data is being handed over to officials.
Microsoft claims that officials have asked for customer information over 5,600 times in the last year and a half. Over half of the 5,600 cases have involved court orders to not inform the customer.
“We appreciate that there are times when secrecy around a government warrant is needed,” Microsoft President Brad Smith said. “But based on the many secrecy orders we have received, we question whether these orders are grounded in specific facts that truly demand secrecy. To the contrary, it appears that the issuance of secrecy orders has become too routine.”