Microsoft Lawsuit Prompts Feds to Limit Data Gag Orders

The Justice Department has agreed to limit its use of a secrecy order frequently used by prosecutors to prevent tech companies from informing their customers when investigators seek access to their emails and other personal data stored in the cloud.

Microsoft says it is dropping a lawsuit against the U.S. Justice Department that targeted a tactic commonly used by prosecutors to prevent tech companies from informing their customers when investigators seek access to their emails and other personal data stored in the cloud, reports GeekWire. The move follows the Justice Department’s announcement of a new binding policy that requires prosecutors to “conduct an individualized and meaningful assessment regarding the need for protection from disclosure” prior to seeking a gag order and to “only seek an order when circumstances require.”

The new policy limits what Brad Smith, Microsoft president and chief legal officer, called an “overused practice.” He wrote, “It is an unequivocal win for our customers, and we’re pleased the DOJ has taken these steps to protect the constitutional rights of all Americans.” Microsoft originally filed the suit over U.S. gag orders in April 2016 in U.S. District Court in Seattle, asking a federal judge to declare unconstitutional the provision of federal law allowing the practice.

from https://thecrimereport.org