- The Justice Department reiterated in a court filing Friday that the government has no legal obligation to tell Microsoft customers when it seizes their email.
- Microsoft filed a lawsuit in April challenging the U.S. government's claims that it can block companies from telling their customers when their data has been examined by federal agents.
- The Justice Department wants the lawsuit thrown out, stating that the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act allows it to obtain electronic communications without a warrant in cases where the data could endanger an individual or an investigation.
The battle over encryption has become a battle between Silicon Valley and federal authorities, with tech giants imploring that encryption is absolutely necessary to preserve privacy rights. Earlier this year, Apple refused a Justice Department order to create what the company calls a "backdoor" into the iPhone operating system to help with the ongoing investigation into one of the San Bernardino attackers.
Advancements in technology have outpaced the laws intended to regulate them. For example, the
Earlier this month, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York overturned a decision that held Microsoft in contempt of court for not complying with a 2013 warrant that mandated the company release a drug trafficking case suspect’s email account data stored on a server in Ireland. The Justice Department had argued that the government has the authority to get the data stored elsewhere since Microsoft is based in the U.S.
Pertaining to the lawsuit filed in April, the Justice Department said Microsoft's challenge goes to the "heart of the ECPA."
"Microsoft’s challenge effectively asks this court to adjudicate the lawfulness of thousands of such court orders from across the U.S., without regard to the basis for, and terms of, those orders, which necessarily vary from case to case," the Justice Department said in Friday’s court filing.