Newsletters
Customer Relationship Management News NewsFactor Sites:       NewsFactor.com     Enterprise Security Today     CRM Daily     Business Report     Sci-Tech Today  
   
Home CRM Systems Customer Service Contact Centers Business Intelligence More Topics...
UCS Invicta: Integrated Flash
Deploy flash memory technology to
deliver peak workload performance.

Find out more>>
Customer Service
Is your endpoint data protected?
Average Rating:
Rate this article:  
Microsoft Fought the FBI, But the FBI Won
Microsoft Fought the FBI, But the FBI Won

By Seth Fitzgerald
May 23, 2014 12:12PM

Bookmark and Share
Government requests like those from the FBI for Microsoft's enterprise customer data are extremely rare, so the firm says it seldom has to litigate against them. It seems that although Microsoft may go out of its way to protect the privacy of enterprise customers against the likes of the FBI, everyday users should not expect the same level of protection.
 


Documents released this week show that Microsoft was ready to go to court in 2013 just to protect the privacy or and enterprise user rather than hand over information about a customer to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The agency had submitted a National Security Letter -- an administrative subpoena -- asking for information on a Microsoft Office 365 enterprise customer. While there is nothing wrong with that sort of request, it came with a gag order.

Microsoft has an internal policy regarding gag orders that prevent it from telling customers that data requests have been made and fulfilled, so rather than hand over the data, Microsoft filed a challenge in a federal court in Seattle. Once Microsoft took that action, the FBI withdrew its request. However, it turns out that rather than being scared off by the tech company, the FBI simply got the information through other means.

Another Route

While it may initially seem as though the FBI backed off its request because it didn't want to duke it out with Microsoft in court, the real reason for the FBI's move was laid out in the recently released documents. The agency was able to approach Microsoft's enterprise customer directly, and as a result, the FBI got all the information it needed without dealing with Redmond head-on.

Had the FBI's end-run not succeeded, it is possible that a court battle would have ensued -- and the FBI may very well have won. National Security Letters typically do not have a court's backing when they are issued. But that does not mean that they do not stand up in court, which is why companies sometimes fulfill such requests.

Brad Smith, Microsoft's general counsel, wrote about the case on his company blog Thursday.

"Last December I announced that Microsoft was committed to notifying business and government customers if we receive legal orders related to their data," Smith said in the blog post. "Where a gag order attempts to prohibit us from doing this, we will challenge it in court. We’ve done this successfully in the past, and we will continue to do so in the future to preserve our ability to alert customers when governments seek to obtain their data.”

Even though Microsoft did not actually scare off the FBI or win a court case against the agency, Smith considers this to be a victory for the company. However, since the user's data was not ultimately protected Smith's contention is up for debate, but at the very least, Microsoft did not actively help the agency.

Only For Enterprise

Although Microsoft may go out of its way to protect the privacy of enterprise customers, everyday users should not expect the same level of protection from the company. In Microsoft's updated privacy policy regarding data requests and in Smith's blog post, all of the extra protections mentioned relate to enterprise and government customers rather than people who are paying for the consumer versions of Office 365 and other Microsoft software.

“Fortunately, government requests for customer data belonging to enterprise customers are extremely rare. We therefore have seldom needed to litigate this type of issue,” Smith said. Smith's blog post seems to indicate that Microsoft will only take these matters to court and fight for certain types of customers.
 

Tell Us What You Think
Comment:

Name:



UCS Invicta: Integrated Flash Why wait for the future? Unlock the potential of your applications and create new business opportunities today with UCS Invicta Series Solid State Systems. Take advantage of the power of flash technology. See how it can help accelerate IT, eliminate data center bottlenecks, and deliver the peak application performance and predictability your users demand. Click here to learn more.


 Customer Service
1.   Oracle To Buy TOA Technologies
2.   Chief Customer Officers' Clout Grows
3.   FTC Wants Fix for Mobile Cramming
4.   Watson's First Consumer-Facing Gig
5.   Social Media Haters Speak Up


advertisement
Chief Customer Officers' Clout Grows
Especially in the tech sector.
Average Rating:
FTC Wants Fix for Mobile Cramming
Overcharges are 'the perfect scam'.
Average Rating:
Social Media Haters Speak Up
Survey says, now showing a little love.
Average Rating:
Product Information and Resources for Technology You Can Use To Boost Your Business

Network Security Spotlight
Ruling Against Microsoft Raises E-Mail Privacy Concern
Microsoft has been ordered to hand over e-mails to law enforcers in the United States as part of a criminal investigation, even though the e-mail is stored at a data center in Dublin,Ireland.
 
Twitter Buys Password Manager Startup Mitro
Following on the heels of another acquisition earlier this week, Twitter is adding to its fold a password-manager security startup called Mitro, which in turn is releasing its code as open source.
 
Government Requests for Customer Data Skyrocket
Requests for customer data from the government jumped 50 percent in the first half of 2014, according to Twitter, which received more than 2,000 requests for user info from gov't agencies.
 

Navigation
CRM Daily
Home/Top News | CRM Systems | Customer Service | Contact Centers | Business Intelligence | Sales & Marketing | Customer Data | CRM Press Releases
NewsFactor Network Enterprise I.T. Sites
NewsFactor Technology News | Enterprise Security Today | CRM Daily

NewsFactor Business and Innovation Sites
Sci-Tech Today | NewsFactor Business Report

NewsFactor Services
FreeNewsFeed | Free Newsletters

About NewsFactor Network | How To Contact Us | Article Reprints | Careers @ NewsFactor | Services for PR Pros | Top Tech Wire | How To Advertise

Privacy Policy | Terms of Service
© Copyright 2000-2014 NewsFactor Network. All rights reserved. Article rating technology by Blogowogo. Member of Accuserve Ad Network.