This is big news. Respect to Microsoft for fighting this battle for their customers.
Microsoft Corp said it will drop a lawsuit against the U.S. government after the Department of Justice (DOJ) changed data request rules on alerting internet users about agencies accessing their information.
The new policy limits 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.
Today marks another important step in ensuring that people’s privacy rights are protected when they store their personal information in the cloud. In response to concerns that Microsoft raised in a lawsuit we brought against the U.S. government in April 2016, and after months advocating for the United States Department of Justice to change its practices, the Department of Justice (DOJ) today established a new policy to address these issues. This new policy limits the overused practice of requiring providers to stay silent when the government accesses personal data stored in the cloud. It helps ensure that secrecy orders are used only when necessary and for defined periods of time. 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 has taken these steps to protect the constitutional rights of all Americans.
Until now, the government routinely sought and obtained orders requiring email providers to not tell our customers when the government takes their personal email or records. Sometimes these orders don’t include a fixed end date, effectively prohibiting us forever from telling our customers that the government has obtained their data.
As we said when we filed the lawsuit, we believe customers have a constitutional right to know when the government gets their email or documents, and we have a right to tell them. These are important principles established by both the Fourth and First Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
Read more on MSFT’s blog.