Tech giants back Microsoft in war with US gov’t over gag orders

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Microsoft has received a ton of support from formidable allies from the community, media and technology spaces in its ongoing fight to shoot down US laws that permit the government to seek user data without users being notified of any information request.
 
Nine amici curiae or friend-of-the-court briefs of nonparticipants in the case were filed to the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington by the Friday deadline.
 
Unconstitutional
Microsoft is challenging the practice of the US government of serving search warrants for user information coupled with gag orders that bar companies from notifying users that their information is being sought or that a warrant has been granted to the effect under 18 U.S. Code § 2703 and 18 U.S. Code § 2705(b).
 
Microsoft said in April when it filed its lawsuit that courts had issued 2,576 gag orders in connection to agencies seeking user data in the past 18-month period.
 
Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel, said that over two thirds (1,752) of the gag orders had no end date, barring Microsoft from ever notifying customers their data was obtained by the government.
 
Microsoft argues that the practice violates the US Constitution’s Fourth Amendment which gives people the right not to be subjected to unreasonable searches and seizures of property.
 
Microsoft and friends
Among the supporters of the Redmond, Washington-based giant’s cause are fellow technology titans Apple, Google, Amazon, Cisco Systems, LinkedIn, Twitter, Salesforce, Yahoo, Snapchat, Pinterest and Evernote.
 
Also supporting Microsoft are Mozilla, The American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers.
 
Media organisations such as The Associated Press, the Association of American Publishers, the Newspaper Association of America, National Public Radio, Getty Images, The Washington Post, The Seattle Times Company and Fox News Network also support the Windows-maker.
 
Big business also filed briefs with BP America, Delta Air Lines, Alaska Airlines, Eli Lilly and Company and GlaxoSmithKline all supporting Microsoft.
 
A group of prominent professors as well as former FBI and Department of Justice officials have also filed as amici curiae for Microsoft.
 

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