The National Security Agency has been under the media spotlight this summer thanks to the many leaks of its online spying operations, and much of that information involves the NSA requesting online information gathered by many tech companies such as Microsoft. Today, the company said it will be taking its quest to reveal more information on the types of requests it receives from the US government to court.
In a blog post, Microsoft's General Counsel and Executive Vice President Brad Smith said today the company had filed a lawsuit against the government in June, along with Google, on this issue, with Smith saying they have the rights under the U.S. Constitution to release this kind of information directly to the public. Smith said they extended the deadline for the government to respond to Microsoft's lawsuit six times this summer but now it looks like six times was not enough for the two sides to come to terms.
Smith says that Microsoft "will move forward with litigation" in this case. He added that while the U.S. government did announce this week that it would reveal the total number of its national security requests for customer data for the past 12 months but Microsoft does not consider that effort to be good enough. Smith said:
For example, we believe it is vital to publish information that clearly shows the number of national security demands for user content, such as the text of an email. These figures should be published in a form that is distinct from the number of demands that capture only metadata such as the subscriber information associated with a particular email address. We believe it’s possible to publish these figures in a manner that avoids putting security at risk. And unless this type of information is made public, any discussion of government practices and service provider obligations will remain incomplete.
While Google has not commented publicly on its own efforts to fight the government on this matter, Smith wrote "today our two companies stand together" in an unusual show of solidarity with one of its biggest business rivals.