friday, 15 april of 2016

Microsoft sues to curb government’s secret e-mail searches

NEW YORK — Microsoft, in a move that could broaden the debate over the balance between customer privacy and law enforcement needs, filed suit Thursday against the Justice Department in a bid to restrict authorities’ ability to view customers’ e-mails without their knowledge.

The suit, filed in Microsoft’s home turf in US District Court in Seattle, asserts that the government’s frequent use of a gag order statute in the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 is unconstitutional. That provision prevents Microsoft and other companies from telling people when the government obtains a warrant to read their computer files, including e-mails.

Specifically, the Justice Department’s use of that provision violates the Fourth Amendment right of its customers to know if the government searches or seizes their property, the suit contends, and it breaches the company’s First Amendment right to speak to its customers.

Microsoft’s suit, unlike Apple’s fight with the FBI over access to a locked iPhone, is not attached to a single case. Instead, it is intended to challenge the legal process regarding secrecy orders.

(Published by The Boston Globe - April 15,2016)

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