Microsoft did challenge government surveillance requests, and sort of won

Microsoft did challenge government surveillance requests, and sort of won
About the time that Edward Snowden shared a whole bunch of dark, dirty secrets of the NSA and government surveillance of individuals’ activities, Microsoft challenged a secret government request for data of a user of a business customer.

That places Microsoft on a short list of companies that have challenged these National Security Letters (NSLs) which are often accompanied by a gag order, so that the recipients cannot even acknowledge that the letter exist to begin with.

Recently, a telecom company challenged the government in California in 2011 and won, but the government is appealing the ruling so the parties involved have not been revealed. Google has been able to loosen the gag orders of the NSLs it receives and incorporates broad data about the requests received from the government in its transparency statements.

The situation with Microsoft is also obscure, but an NSL was received some time last year, and Microsoft objected on the grounds that the gag order violated its free-speech rights. While that matter got bogged down, the FBI, who issued the NSL, approached Microsoft’s customer (who used Office 365), and apparently got some of what it was looking for.

The ACLU, while questioning whether Microsoft would have defended an individual rather than a business client did acknowledge, “Microsoft deserves credit for this.”

Unfortunately, the disposition of NSLs means we know little about them. They are typically issued by the FBI and are specific in nature as to what information they are seeking and do not typically breach the threshold that would require a warrant. While that does not make NSLs any less controversial, they are not broad data gathering mechanisms attributed to NSA activity.

Whether or not more companies will stand-up to protect user privacy is still a matter for debate.

source: The Wall Street Journal

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18 Comments

1. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 2010

Such a crock of sh*t. :-( There should be no limit on disclosure of who has been served with demands for data. Put a 30, 60 or 90 day limit on disclosure. But open-ended limits? That is just soo much bullish*t!

10. networkdood

Posts: 6330; Member since: Mar 31, 2010

Yep...this is a fake story designed to garner sympathy for Microsoft...do not buy it...

2. Augustine

Posts: 1043; Member since: Sep 28, 2013

O, the land of the secret warrants issued by secret courts based on secret laws, and the home of the lame.

3. 0xFFFF

Posts: 3806; Member since: Apr 16, 2014

This "protest theatre" is not believable, not at all. Microsoft has ALWAYS cooperated fully with the NSA, for DECADES. Now that it is public knowledge, all these morally bankrupt tech companies are putting on displays of "protest theatre". The protests are laughable, just like the EFF's gold star awards for companies "who've got your back". More like "companies that stab you in the back" and all the big name tech companies rate the maximum number of gold stars. Every single large tech company in the US looks at people as nothing more than dirt to tread on.

4. ocilfa

Posts: 334; Member since: Aug 03, 2012

With this kind of probing going on, it only feels appropriate to say "Good night, and good luck."

5. papss unregistered

Hmmm I wonder how many fandroids would be be applauding Google had this been them

6. Miracles

Posts: 560; Member since: Aug 31, 2013

Nothing is private in the todays internet world....so stop being pis#ed about all NSA this and that...and its not just the USA...everyone does it.

13. Augustine

Posts: 1043; Member since: Sep 28, 2013

If everyone is doing it, that makes it right. Okey dokey, then.

16. 0xFFFF

Posts: 3806; Member since: Apr 16, 2014

Not everyone is happy to be treated like a slave, like property.

7. Liveitup

Posts: 1798; Member since: Jan 07, 2014

Very true but its always good to see companies like Microsoft whether the win or lose stand up for its customers. That can't be said for some companies.

8. networkdood

Posts: 6330; Member since: Mar 31, 2010

This is just a propaganda piece for Microsoft...trying improve their image... They designed their software with a backdoor for the NSA....they were complicit...

9. papss unregistered

You mean like Google who's search data is the perfect net to catch data for the nsa? We can all do this finger pointing ... Maybe Google is the right arm of the nsa group so search up fandroid

11. networkdood

Posts: 6330; Member since: Mar 31, 2010

Nope..they are guilty to and are a board member of the CFR....

12. networkdood

Posts: 6330; Member since: Mar 31, 2010

Too..I meant

14. Reluctant_Human

Posts: 913; Member since: Jun 28, 2012

Hey papss. They're both in the wrong. It's a not a fan boy issue (which YOU make everything out to be). Both companies and the government are wrong. I condemn Google for this can you do the same for MS.

17. 0xFFFF

Posts: 3806; Member since: Apr 16, 2014

Well said. We shouldn't single out one company as every single tech company is in bed with the NSA. As Microsoft is an older company, they've been bed with the NSA for a long time, far before the Patriot Act, and have never had any issues with treating their customers like dirt to please the government (who continues to let them keep a nice monopoly, complete with massive profits). But Microsoft is not alone in the bed with NSA, and in many ways, Google far exceeds Microsoft when it comes to invasive data collection.

18. Dastrix unregistered

How is that propaganda? This matter is of an obscure nature, meaning that not a lot of people are aware of this. And, you call that propaganda? You're more like fanboy.

15. DontHateOnS60

Posts: 872; Member since: Apr 20, 2009

I love how the ACLU gets quoted when they're a bunch of idiots claiming to be for (some) people's rights but not others. They need to just go away. The world would be a better place without them.

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