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Apr 16, 2016 07:46 AM EDT

Microsoft Sues US Government Over Secret Customer Data Searches, Requests


The Microsoft Corp is suing the U.S. government over a federal law that allows the latter to search and look at customer data. The multinational technology company is fighting over privacy issues and their prerogative to tell their customers of when a federal agency is looking at their emails and documents.

The lawsuit was filed in a Seattle court. Microsoft says that the U.S. Justice Department has asked for customer information for more than 5,000 times in the past 18 months. According to Mashable, the authorities put a gag order on Microsoft on the requests. The technology giant says that the customer data searches violate the constitutional rights of free speech and protection against unreasonable searchers under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA).

"We appreciate that there are times when secrecy around a government warrant is needed," Microsoft Corp President Brad Smith said as reported by ABC News. "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."

Microsoft adds that the government is exploiting cloud storage for their searches as more and more people are storing their data online. Department of Justice spokeswoman Emily Pierce says that the federal agency is looking at the lawsuit. Reuters shares that Microsoft's lawsuit came a day after reforms of the ECPA was voted for by the US congressional panel. It is not known if the bill will go through the senate, get approved and be a law this year.

What do you think of Microsoft's lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice? Is it business-motivated or are they doing their part of protecting their customers against unwarranted data searches from the government? Tell us your opinions in the comments below.

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