Online privacy is a never-ending debate as the attention now shifts from the Apple vs. FBI case to Microsoft vs. U.S. government.
In the latest reports, Microsoft will be battling in the courts of law against the government of the United States with respect to user privacy. The Windows OS maker wants to own the right to inform users whenever they suspect of any government-sponsored attacks. It has become a “normal” thing for federal agents to snoop through emails and other online communications without the knowledge of account owners.
According to Microsoft, the U.S. government is violating the constitution by preventing them from alerting users about the many requests agencies make with respect to emails and other online files. In the Fourth Amendment, it is stated that people and business entities have the right to know whenever the government seizes or searches their property. Microsoft believes that the government is going against this law. In addition, the Redmond Company says that the actions of the state are in violation of the First Amendment right to free speech.
In Microsoft’s view, the fact that a lot of data storage occurs in the cloud and not locally on users’ computers means that the government has found new channels of accessing this electronic data, especially with the help of the 30-year-old Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA). According to experts in the technology industry, this law is outdated because it was written before the rise of the commercial internet. In Microsoft’s lawsuit, the company says that the government is exploiting the transition from local computing to cloud computing as a way of expanding its power to exercise secret investigations.
As mentioned earlier, Apple has been locked in a series of battles with the FBI. During these hard times, the iPhone maker was glad to receive vocal support from the likes of Microsoft and Facebook. According to the company’s Chief Legal Officer, Brad Smith, they expect the same support to rally behind them during this lawsuit.
The Windows OS maker is aware that offering unencrypted cloud computing services would be the result of chasing away customers. With this lawsuit, the company will be sure of grabbing the attention of many as they seek for secure cloud storage services.
Microsoft says that in the last 18 months, it has received more than 5600 legal directives under the ECPA; however, it was prevented to alert holders of more than half of these accounts of what the government was seeking for. A battle won two years ago, it seems the government is at it again. However, this time, Microsoft wants even more as it seeks to alert business and individuals of what exactly the government is seeking for.
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