Microsoft Sues U.S. Government to Stop Hundreds of Secret Email Searches [VIDEO]

While agreeing that government sometimes needs to do it, the company says the number of secret email searches has grown to an outrageous number.

In what cases should the government conduct secret email searches?

According to TechDirt,

Microsoft isn’t the first company to sue the government over its gag orders. Google, Yahoo, Twitter, and a small ISP called Calyx Internet Access have all taken the government to court over its various demands for secrecy it ties to its National Security Letter requests.

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But the more the merrier. Sooner or later, someone’s going to have to side with the recipient. As Microsoft alleges in its announcement of the lawsuit, the secrecy problem is getting worse, instead of better — despite the national discussion over domestic surveillance, expanded government power and the ongoing circumvention of due process.

Here is Newt Gingrich’s answer to the question of secret email searches. Do you think he is right? Or do you think he is supporting Big Brother?

Warrants are supposed to be for specific things or a specific purpose. That’s what the Fourth Amendment states. If the government tells Microsoft to give them access to emails (including all past emails), and does not prosecute someone on the basis of what they find, then I don’t understand the legal basis for prohibiting customers from ever knowing that the government read their emails and downloaded all their files.

Microsoft claims that, in a year and a half, they were ordered to given 2,576 legal demands in which they were barred from ever informing their customers.

I wonder if the real purpose of the lawsuit was to let us know how often, in the case of one company alone, the government is secretly spying on people. If they had just released the information the government would have probably claimed doing so was illegal and prosecuted Microsoft.

This is how the surveillance state gets assembled without Americans knowing what is happening.

It is really easy to imagine how this power could be abused. Imagine some truly conservative candidate tries to run for high office some day and, inexplicably, the media is given emails showing that a family member has mental issues or some similar embarrassing facts that were supposed to be private. No one can be sure what the government is getting this information for or what they are doing with it. It would be simple for someone in the bureaucracy to use it for blackmail or some other illegitimate purpose.

Remember, the NSA had no idea how much information Edward Snowden took from them. We have no reason to believe that any other government agency has any better safeguards.

Newt Gingrich uses the fear of a dirty bomb or some other horror to get us to side with the government on this?

I think we should look at the government’s actions rather than their rhetoric.

  • Does the government take airport security seriously? They created the TSA so obviously they are more interested in security theater than in real security.
  • Does the government care about basic border security? Again: Obviously not.

So I don’t see any reason we should let the threat of terrorism scare us into accepting Big Brother. Big government is the real threat to the American people.

Joe Scudder

Joe Scudder is the "nom de plume" (or "nom de guerre") of a fifty-ish-year-old writer and stroke survivor. He lives in St Louis with his wife and still-at-home children. He has been a freelance writer and occasional political activist since the early nineties. He describes his politics as Tolkienesque.

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