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Judge sides with Microsoft over gagging orders

by on10 February 2017

DoJ can’t stop case going ahead

A judge has sided with Microsoft and allowed a court battle against government gag orders to go ahead.

The Department of Justice had asked Seattle District Judge James Robart to reject the case and force Microsoft and the rest of the tech industry to do what it told them.

However, Robart has decided to allow the case to go ahead, which could be rather embarrassing for the government.

Vole filed the lawsuit back in 2016 to fight for its customers' right to know when the government asks for their data. See, requests for data stored in the cloud come with gag orders that have no expiration date, and Redmond argued that it violates First and Fourth Amendments rights.

Robart said Microsoft's Fourth Amendment argument was weak, but he mentioned that the company could bring it up again when it reaches higher courts.

When authorities want to access documents and other physical data, they must notify people that they asked for their private information or that they seized their property.

Perpetual gag orders prevent the company from telling their customers the truth, it expands the government's ability to conduct covert investigations. That's the reason tech companies fight gag orders in court and why Microsoft will continue pursuing this lawsuit.

Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith said that the ruling enables the case to move forward toward a reasonable solution that works for law enforcement and ensures secrecy is used only when necessary.

Last modified on 10 February 2017
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