Oct. 24 (UPI) — Microsoft is dropping a lawsuit against the U.S. Justice Department after the law enforcement body issued a new policy limiting the use of gag orders against tech companies concerning customer data.
Microsoft filed the suit last year asking a federal judge to strike down a statute of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, on the use of secrecy orders in federal investigations when they involve warrants for consumers’ electronic data.
The law, enacted in 1986, prevents companies from telling customers if their personal data is being accessed by investigators. It allows courts to order companies to “keep its customers in the dark when the government seeks their email content or other private information,” Microsoft argued in its suit.
The new DOJ policy says prosecutors must now “conduct an individualized and meaningful assessment regarding the need for protection from disclosure” and give specific reasons for a gag order involving customer data. The change stops courts from routinely imposing gag orders when customers’ records are turned over to investigators.
“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,” he said.