Amazon, Apple and Google Back Microsoft in DOJ Gag Order Lawsuit
Microsoft gathers a long list of influential supporters in its lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice and its use of sealed orders.Amazon, Apple and Alphabet's Google subsidiary have filed friend-of-the-court briefs supporting Microsoft's stance on a lawsuit filed against the U.S. Department of Justice earlier this year. On April 14, Microsoft filed its suit against the U.S. government agency, arguing that a statute of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act violates both the First and Fourth Amendments and is unconstitutional. The statute, Section 2705(b), provides courts with so-called secrecy orders that prevents service providers from disclosing when the government is seeking customer data. Microsoft asserts that such gag orders violate the Fourth Amendment by not informing individuals that their property has been searched or seized by the government. In addition, the company said the law violates its own First Amendment right to free speech. "Over the past 18 months, the U.S. government has required that we maintain secrecy regarding 2,576 legal demands, effectively silencing Microsoft from speaking to customers about warrants or other legal process seeking their data," stated Brad Smith, Microsoft's top lawyer, in an April 14 announcement. More than two-thirds of those orders were open-ended, with no end date attached.
Seeking to end the practice of keeping customers in the dark when the U.S. government requests their data, Microsoft kicked off its lawsuit filed in the U.S. Western District Court of Seattle. And just before the Sept. 2 deadline to submit amicus curiae briefs, several powerful and influential organizations lined up to express their support.