Real news from the privacy world

Microsoft Fights to Protect Data Privacy


The latest attempts from U.S. government to gain access to more user information lead even the competitors to join forces to protect their users’ rights.

The main target by the Government was Microsoft. The officials want to force Microsoft and other U.S. based companies to be obligated to provide any user information even if the data is stored outside the USA borders. Over 70 IT companies, groups, associations and computer scientists has joined to fight for our rights to online privacy. These organizations include Apple, Verizon, HP, Amazon, Rackspace, Cisco, eBay, Fox News, CNN, etc.

If Microsoft loses, they and many other companies based in the USA will have to look for a new ways to secure user information from government since currently it is very common to store information in the servers located in other countries that have policies that allow information to be kept private even if the government requests to share it.

All the companies supporting Microsoft have submitted a brief to express their dissatisfaction towards a proposed law that should be considered unlawful since it overreaches the U.S. government jurisdiction. It is also been noted that the U.S. Supreme Court stated numerous times that U.S. statutes do not have any power outside of the USA.

The opposing parties are not only afraid of the U.S. government gaining power in other countries. The new law would mean that the government no longer needs to follow international treaties and partnerships to cooperate if the information about the user is necessary for the investigation. It would also encourage other countries to pass similar laws as well. It would make it so that user’s data can be obtained by various governments without the need of international collaboration.

The fight between Microsoft and the U.S. government started last December when the government received a warrant for the data of a customer. While part of the data was held in the servers located in the USA, the contents of user’s emails were stored in Dublin. Despite the information being stored in other country U.S. government insisted that the warrant applies to all information regardless of where it is being stored.

With the proposed law government most likely aims to establish its authority over data that is kept by a USA based company. Their desire to have a control over greater amount of information is most likely influenced by various leaks from Edward Snowden and other whistleblowers.

One of the arguments the government states is that the emails are not exclusive property of the sender or receiver but a shared property of the company that stores the emails in cloud as well. Therefore, emails are no longer considered as personal records but as business records instead. Therefore, government claims that they can force companies to provide this data since business records have a lower legal protection.

Moreover, the Justice Department would need to overcome the Congress’s authority since they want to make the new law apply in other countries even though the lawmakers have not included this fact in the original Electronic Communications Privacy Act. Furthermore, there are indications that the law was originally made to apply only inside the USA. However, the Justice Department saw a potential way to gain more international power and decided to make the law international.

The proposed law shows that government is interested to have an on demand access to user data. Thus, everyone who values their privacy should consider protecting their information and use services that are not based in the USA if possible. NordVPN is not based in the USA and it also does not store any logs. Therefore, our VPN users’ information is secure and can not be accessed by third parties.

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