Are US Privacy Laws Unconstitutional? We’ll find out in Microsoft’s new suit against the US Government!

15 April 2016 Internet, IT & e-Discovery Blog Blog
Authors: Peter Vogel

The Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) 18 U.S.C. § 2705(b) violates the First and Fourth Amendments since the Constitution should “afford people and businesses the right to know if the government searches or seizes their property.” The April 14, 2016 Complaint for Declaratory Judgment filed in Seattle federal court against the US Department of Justice and US Attorney General Loretta Lynch declares that:

People do not give up their rights when they move their private information from physical storage to the cloud. Microsoft therefore asks the Court to declare that Section 2705(b) is unconstitutional on its face.

The government, however, has exploited the transition to cloud computing as a means of expanding its power to conduct secret investigations. As individuals and business have moved their most sensitive information to the cloud, the government has increasingly adopted the tactic of obtaining the private digital documents of cloud customers not from the customers themselves, but through legal process directed at online cloud providers like Microsoft.

Over the past 18 months, federal courts have issued nearly 2,600 secrecy orders silencing Microsoft from speaking about warrants and other legal process seeking Microsoft customers’ data; of those, more than two-thirds contained no fixed end date.

This will be an important case to follow!

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