Microsoft [corporate website] sued [complaint, PDF] the US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] on Thursday regarding the privacy of their customers’ emails. Microsoft filed the lawsuit in the US District Court for the Western District of Washington [official website] in an attempt to block authorities from taking customer emails without Microsoft’s knowledge. Microsoft claims [Reuters report] that the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act [DOJ material] is unconstitutional as it goes against their First and their customers’ Fourth Amendment [texts] rights. Microsoft alleges that the federal government is violating these rights by preventing Microsoft from notifying its customers about government requests for their emails.
Technology continues to raise important privacy questions. In April the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled [JURIST report] that obtaining phone location records without a warrant was not a violation of the Fourth Amendment. Last November the US Supreme Court rejected a case [JURIST report] to determine whether it is necessary to obtain a search warrant when law enforcement requests access to cell phone location data. In October California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law [JURIST report] the California Electronic Communications Act (CECA), a law that many are touting as a substantial step forward for digital privacy and protecting users’ rights. The law, which was approved alongside more than 10 other bills, bars any state’s law enforcement agency or other investigative entity from requesting sensitive metadata from persons or businesses without a warrant. Also in October the European Court of Justice ruled [JURIST report] that EU user data transferred to the US by various technology companies is not sufficiently protected.