Internet Law

Google and Microsoft sue US government over data requests

Google and Microsoft are suing the US government for more transparency concerning government data requests, it has been announced. The companies believe the government should publish information on the how often it makes data requests and what kind of data is sought.

Google and Microsoft sue US government over data requests ©-Victoria-Fotolia

Google and Microsoft sue US government over data requests ©-Victoria-Fotolia

Data requests

In June 2013, both companies initiated proceedings in US courts to gain approval to publish more information about the government data requests they receive under so-called Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) orders.

In the meantime both companies have allowed the government to extend the time limit for replying to the claims by a total of six times.

All official negotiations trying to find an out-of-court solution have remained fruitless.

Now Google and Microsoft intend to join together to bring a court action, as both companies are “concerned” about the government’s position.

Danger for national security

The US government recently announced it will publish annual information on the number of data requests it makes.

But this is not enough for the two technology businesses. Both want more detailed information to be published.

According to Microsoft, information should be published “that clearly shows the number of national security demands for user content, such as the text of an email.” Microsoft argues that such information should form a distinct category from “the number of demands that capture only metadata such as the subscriber information associated with a particular email address”. The company argues that such information could be published in a way which does not place national security at risk.

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Christian Solmecke is a partner at the law firm WILDE BEUGER SOLMECKE. He is the author of numerous legal publications in the area of internet and IT law. He is also an associate lecturer for social media law at the Cologne University of Applied Sciences.

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