Once again Microsoft has succeeded in court in defending the privacy of its customers against the US government, this time by attacking a law that prohibits the company from informing suspects that their information is the subject of a seizure request.

Of course, it may seem paradoxical to see Microsoft stand as a hero in defense of privacy, when you know how Windows 10 was criticized for the amount of personal data collected. But it is to defend the right to privacy of its customers that the Redmond company is currently engaged in a new legal battle, which earned it the support of many companies. As a liberal, Microsoft believes that data access by the state has nothing to do with access by the company itself.

In April, Microsoft decided to attack a 30-year-old US federal law, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), which requires it to give the police access to data hosted on servers, while forbidding them to let the suspects know that they are the subject of a search. The group notes that in 18 months, it has received no less than 2600 federal court orders based on this law, which considers to be inconsistent with the US Constitution.


Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella


Microsoft considers that obtaining the personal data of an individual or a company without warning violates the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution, which requires “the right of people to be secure (…) against unreasonable searches and seizures,” which means they can challenge these motivations. The group also argues the violation of the First Amendment on freedom of expression, because the fear of a secret search may discourage the use of online services.

Reuters reports that in this case, Microsoft has received the support of many companies in various industries, from pharmaceutical companies to digital startups, through major media. Apple, Google and Amazon are some of those who submitted a case to the court for repeal of the federal law, alongside BP America, Delta Air Lines, Fox News, the Washington Post, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the US Chamber of Commerce. All require that the law be repealed as it is unconstitutional.


This is not the first time that Microsoft has closed ranks against the US government’s attempts to obtain data. Since the revelations of Edward Snowden and the doubts imposed by PRISM on the cooperation of web giants, it has become commercially vital for Americans to be transparent.

In July, Microsoft won a great victory against US authorities who ordered the company to send them emails from a European stored in Ireland. The company was able to successfully argue that the authorities had to go through the normal procedures of judicial cooperation between states.

Already at that time, the firm had formed a grand coalition with Accenture, Amazon, Apple, AT & T, Cisco, CNN, eBay, Fox News, HP, Salesforce, Verizon, the Washington Post, the BSA (Business Software Alliance), CCIA, EFF, Open Rights Group, the ACLU, the Chamber of Commerce of the United States and Digital Rights Ireland.