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Microsoft Drops Lawsuit Against The US Govt. After Data Request Rule Changes


Microsoft Corporation filed a lawsuit against the US government in April 2016 arguing that the government was violating the constitution by preventing the company from informing its customers about government requests for their emails and other documents. In recent developments the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) decided to change its data request rules on alerting internet users about agencies accessing their information. The new policy connotes a promise to limit the use of secrecy orders and calls for such orders to be issued for defined periods.

Microsoft Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith said in a blog post on Monday. “As a result of the issuance of this policy, we are taking steps to dismiss our lawsuit,” Smith said. The company expects the changes to end the practice of indefinite secrecy orders.

The suit filed by Microsoft argued that the government’s actions were in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the American constitution, which establishes the right for people and businesses to have knowledge of the government’s decision to search or seizes their property, and the company’s First Amendment right to free speech.

Smith said that the changes in respect will and should ensure that secrecy order request are “carefully and specifically tailored to the facts in the case,” he went further, saying “This is an important step for both privacy and free expression. It is an unequivocal win for our customers, and we’re pleased the DOJ (Department of Justice) has taken these steps to protect the constitutional rights of all Americans,” 

While Microsoft has agreed to drop its lawsuit, Smith said the company is renewing its call to Congress for the amendment of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act which was adopted in 1986. Microsoft as a company is bent on user privacy security and the user ability to trust the corporation to render such.

Last week, the US Supreme Court agreed to hear the Trump administration’s appeal of a lower court’s ruling preventing federal prosecutors and law enforcement agencies from getting access to emails stored in Microsoft computer servers in Dublin, Ireland in a drug trafficking investigation. Government lawyers argued the lower court ruling threatened national security and public safety by obstructing investigation and thereby bringing criminals to justice.

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