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Tag: microsoft

Microsoft Sues Justice Department Over Data Gag Orders

courtroomBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Microsoft launched a lawsuit against the Justice Department, saying the government should not be able to prevent companies from notifying customers that law enforcement officials have requested their e-mails and data.

The lawsuit argues it’s unconstitutional to prevent companies from informing their customers of the requests, ABC News reports. 

“Microsoft brings this case because its customers have a right to know when the government obtains a warrant to read their emails, and because Microsoft has a right to tell them,” the tech giant says in its lawsuit.

Microsoft said the government often issues orders requiring secrecy.

The Justice Department declined to comment on the lawsuit, saying, “We are reviewing the filing.”

Numerous Tech Companies Join Apple’s Fight with FBI Over Phone Encryption

Apple CEO Tim Cook.

Apple CEO Tim Cook.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Apple became the first big tech company to openly criticize the FBI’s attempts to force companies to unlock phones to help investigators get access to information.

But the company has been joined by Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook and a host of others who filed court briefs on Thursday to support Apple’s argument that it does not have to unlock phones for law enforcement, the New York Times reports. 

About 40 companies and organizations filed more than a dozen briefs with the Federal Court for the District Central California to challenge the government’s case.

They argue about the infringement of free speech, the importance of encryption and government overreach.

“These companies, which are often fierce competitors, have joined together to voice concern about the attempted government overreach in this case, which threatens the integrity and security of their products and privacy rights of consumers in general,” said Neal Katyal, a lawyer at Hogan Lovells for the tech companies and a former acting solicitor general of the United States.

Bill Gates Sides with FBI in Fight to Force Apple to Unlock iPhone of San Bernardino Shooter

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Bill Gates is siding with the FBI in it battle to force Apple to help hack into a locked iPhone that belonged to one of the San Bernardino shooters.

In an interview with Financial Times, the Microsoft founder compared the case to police gathering records from a phone company as part of an investigation.

“This is a specific case where the government is asking for access to information. They are not asking for some general thing, they are asking for a particular case,” Gates said.

“It is no different than [the question of] should anybody ever have been able to tell the phone company to get information, should anybody be able to get at bank records. Let’s say the bank had tied a ribbon round the disk drive and said, ‘Don’t make me cut this ribbon because you’ll make me cut it many times’.”

Microsoft is the first major tech company to side with the FBI. Other tech companies, such as Facebook, Google and Twitter, have sided with Apple, saying the case would set a dangerous precedent of invading the privacy of tech users.

FBI to Allow Companies to Reveal When They Receive National Security Letters

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Companies like Google and Microsoft have long expressed frustration with the inability to disclose when they’ve received a secretive compliance order from the FBI seeking records.

Under a new FBI policy, companies will be able to disclose the “national security letters,” but only “at the earlier of three years after the opening of a fully predicated investigation or the investigation’s close,” The Wall Street Journal reports.

Until now, the FBI has been able to obtain telephone, banking and Internet company records without a court order, and the company was legally prevented from disclosing bureau’s order.

The changes are part of President Obama’s call to reform surveillance practices and data collection.

Microsoft Turned over Data on Charlie Hebdo to FBI in Less Than Hour

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

Microsoft took less than one hour to provide the FBI with data connected to the Charlie Hebdo investigation, an attorney for the software giant said Tuesday, The Los Angeles Times reports.

After concluding the request was “proper,” Microsoft gave the FBI the information in within about 45 minutes.

Microsoft attorney Brad Smith said the quick turnover underscores that private companies can work with law enforcement.

But Smith emphasized that new laws expanding the government’s right to access information from the Internet could sacrifice civil liberties.

“If those in government want to shift the line between safety and privacy, the appropriate path is to do so by changing the law rather than asking those of us in the private sector to shift this balance ourselves,” he said. “Democratic societies, not private companies, need to decide on the balances to be struck between public values such as public safety and personal privacy.”

Tech Companies Urge Congress to Shed More Light on Secret Information Requests

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

More than two dozen companies and numerous trade groups are endorsing bills that would open more light on the government’s secret information requests, the Verge.com reports.

The businesses and trade groups are showing their support for bills that would allow them to reveal when they receive requests for national security-related data.

Among those who signed the letter to Congressional members are Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo.

Those same companies have been forced to turn over information without the ability to disclose it.

The argument is that barring the disclosure of information to users violates free speech rights.

Microsoft Helped NSA, FBI Access Personal User Information

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Microsoft Corp has helped U.S. intelligence service intercept users’ communication, Reuters reports.

The software company also permitted the NSA to circumvent email encryption to gain access to users.

The information comes from documents released to the Guardian by NSA leaker Edward Snowden.

Among the communication collected was conversations on Skype, an online chat service.

Microsoft denied the reports.

“To be clear, Microsoft does not provide any government with blanket or direct access to SkyDrive, Outlook.com, Skype or any Microsoft product,” the company said in a statement on its website. 

Internet Companies Call For More Disclosure of Surveillance

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Microsoft, Twitter, Google and Facebook are calling for more disclosure of secret requests to hand over date of users, The Guardian reports.

“Permitting greater transparency on the aggregate volume and scope of national security requests, including Fisa orders, would help the community understand and debate these important issues,” Microsoft said in an emailed statement.

The federal government issues national security letters to demand access to computer data.

It’s currently against the law to disclose how many secret requests were turned over under the controversial Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.