While mostly tech rivals invest a considerable measure of their time and energy at each other's throats, there are events when they cooperate for a commonly valuable aim. Samsung's patent debate a year ago is one case, similar to the FBI iPhone adventure, and now another case is joining organizations from inside and outside of the tech business: Microsoft's fight with US government over the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA).
Amazon, Apple, Google, and Mozilla have all documented an amicus brief supporting Microsoft's lawsuit that aims to stop the ECPA from allowing officials to determine when or if companies can notify customers of government information requests. Different firms that are backing include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, Delta Air Lines Inc, Eli Lilly and Co, BP America, the Washington Post, Fox News, the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Newspaper Association, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, five former FBI and justice department officials, and many others.
The unlike union incited Microsoft's chief legal officer, Brad Smith, to joke: "It’s not every day that Fox News and the ACLU are on the same side of an issue." He previously said in a blog post that consumers and businesses have a right to know when the government accesses their e-mails or records. The companies believe that not notifying customers of the requests is a violation of the fourth amendment, which establishes the right for people and businesses to know if the government searches or seizes their property. Microsoft claims it also violates its First Amendment right to free speech.
Despite all the support, there's no assurance that Microsoft's claim will be effective. The justice department has said there's "convincing" interest for keeping criminal examinations undercover, and that there are steps to protect constitutional rights. It hasn't remarked on the recent friends-of-the-court filings.
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