Microsoft Successfully Challenges Illegal FBI Letter

A federal court has unsealed court documents stemming from Microsoft’s challenge to an FBI National Security Letter Microsoft recieved late last year.

The FBI’s letter in this case sought information about an account belonging to a Microsoft enterprise customer. Like all National Security Letters, this one sought only basic subscriber information.

Last December Microsoft committed “to notifying business and government customers when legal orders are related to their data. Where a gag order attempts to prohibit Microsoft from doing this, the company promised to challenge it in court.

In this case, the Letter included a nondisclosure provision and the Redmond software giant moved forward to challenge it in court.  Microsoft’s legal counsel concluded that the nondisclosure provision was unlawful and violated our Constitutional right to free expression. The NDA did not allow Microsoft to notify enterprise customers when receive legal orders related to their data.

The FBI withdrew its letter following the legal challenge.

Microsoft’s chief legal counsel Brad Smith commented:

“This National Security Letter was unlawful and violated our Constitutional right to free expression. This case demonstrates the vital role our courts continue to play & the cause for confidence they provide. And is an important & successful step to protect Microsoft’s enterprise customers on government.”

Source: Microsoft on the Issues

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