Microsoft Fighting US Government Over Consumer Email Privacy

Image: Microsoft Fighting US Government Over Consumer Email Privacy (Stephen Brashear/Stringer/Getty Images)

Wednesday, 30 Jul 2014 11:32 AM

By John Blosser

Share:
  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
  Print  
|  A   A  
  Copy Shortlink
Computer giant Microsoft is taking on the U.S. government in a battle to protect the privacy of cellphone and computer users' personal email.

Brad Smith, Microsoft's general counsel and executive vice president for corporate affairs, wrote in an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal that government efforts to seize a consumer's email in a narcotics investigation hit a raw nerve.

The search warrant/subpoena was issued in December, seeking email stored in a Microsoft cloud facility in Dublin, Ireland. Microsoft is fighting it in a federal court in New York.

Smith argues that while the government may search business records by subpoena, it may not search personal information without a warrant and, when that information is stored overseas, it may not obtain it even through a U.S. search warrant.

"Microsoft believes the higher legal protection for personal conversations should be preserved for new forms of digital communications, such as emails or text and instant messaging," Smith wrote.

Microsoft is leaning heavily on a 9-0 Supreme Court ruling in June in U.S. v. Wurie and Riley v. California, in which Chief Justice John Roberts, wrote, "Our answer to the question of what police must do before searching a cellphone seized incident to an arrest is accordingly simple – get a warrant," The Hill reported.

"The fact that technology now allows an individual to carry such information in his hand does not make the information any less worthy of the protection for which the founders fought," Roberts wrote, according to  EWeek.

Smith wrote in a statement, "The court put a stake firmly in the ground and effectively declared that privacy protection must account for new technologies."

In a blog post, Smith further argued, writing, "We think it's a problem for governments to use a warrant to reach across international borders and search a person's email without respecting local privacy laws. And we are not alone."

In a survey Microsoft commissioned through Anzalone Liszt Grove Research, 83 percent agreed that "police should be required to get a warrant before searching personal information on someone's cellphone," while 67 percent said, "Americans shouldn't have to give up privacy and freedom for safety from crime and terrorism."

Smith also wrote in the Journal that there is a concern that if the United States is allowed to reach into foreign countries to retrieve cellphone and computer personal data, "It's hard to believe that the American people will blithely accept that foreign governments can obtain their emails stored in U.S. data centers without letting them know or notifying the U.S. government. Yet the U.S. government is taking precisely this position toward emails stored in Microsoft's data center in Ireland."

The 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act allows a warrantless search of emails if they are over 180 days old. Microsoft, The Hill reports, wants the law updated. Some 228 House members are backing legislation to do just that, but it has stalled.

Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Mike Lee, R-Utah, are seeking changes to the law that would require law enforcement to obtain a warrant before searching personal emails, The Hill reports.

Related Stories:

© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Share:
  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
  Print  
  Copy Shortlink
Around the Web
Join the Newsmax Community
Please review Community Guidelines before posting a comment.
>> Register to share your comments with the community.
>> Login if you are already a member.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
Email:
Country
Zip Code:
Privacy: We never share your email.
 
Hot Topics
Follow Newsmax
Like us
on Facebook
Follow us
on Twitter
Add us
on Google Plus
Around the Web
Top Stories
You May Also Like

Gubernatorial Shakeups Loom Amid Elections

Monday, 20 Oct 2014 09:33 AM

The Nov. 4 elections may not only shake up the Senate, but appear to be putting at least 11 incumbent governor's seats i . . .

New Hampshire Town's Pumpkin Festival Turns Into a Riot Scene

Monday, 20 Oct 2014 08:05 AM

Rowdy college students in the small town of Keene, New Hampshire transformed a pumpkin festival into a riot, The Keene S . . .

Wisconsin Teachers Choosing to Pull Out of Unions

Monday, 20 Oct 2014 07:13 AM

Increasing numbers of teachers in Wisconsin are choosing not to remain union members now that they have a choice, with m . . .

Most Commented

Newsmax, Moneynews, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, NewsmaxWorld, NewsmaxHealth, are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

 
NEWSMAX.COM
America's News Page
©  Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved