Microsoft successfully challenges secret FBI data request

The Boardroom

by | 23 May 2014

Tech giant claims win, though agency still has its way.

Microsoft has forced US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to back down after successfully challenging a secret request from the agency to hand over data from one of its Office 365 customers.

Court documents reveal a National Security Letter (NSL) sent by the FBI to Microsoft last year requesting "several categories of information" about a single, unnamed enterprise customer. The letter came with a default 'gag order,' which implies that the company can't disclose the request even to its customer.

Commenting on his blog, Microsoft chief counsel Brad Smith said, "Last December I announced that Microsoft was committed to notifying business and government customers if we receive legal orders related to their data."

"Where a gag order attempts to prohibit us from doing this, we will challenge it in court."

Microsoft challenged the order on various grounds, citing it as 'constitutional' and 'violating free speech rights.'

The power of NSL was enhanced by the Patriot Act after 9/11.

While Microsoft win was hailed, few privacy advocates remain skeptical as the court documents reveal that the agency was able to get data through 'lawful means from a third party' and voluntarily withdrew NSL request.

Tech companies in the US are increasingly becoming proactive in warding off data requests from government in wake of last year's NSA spying scandal disclosures by Edward Snowden. Last year, Google became the first major tech company to challenge NSLs in court.

Comments
Post a comment

Comments may be moderated for spam, obscenities or defamation.

Join our network

746 people like this.
0 people follow this.

The Boardroom Intelligence

Buy the latest industry research online today!
See more

Suppliers Directory

Privcy Policy

We have updated our privacy policy. In the latest update it explains what cookies are and how we use them on our site. To learn more about cookies and their benefits, please view our privacy policy. Please be aware that parts of this site will not function correctly if you disable cookies. By continuing to use this site, you consent to our use of cookies in accordance with our privacy policy unless you have disabled them.