It has been a challenging year for an embattled Microsoft on numerous fronts including mobile devices as well as its Windows operating system. However, the threat to the cloud and the privacy of data stored within could be the single most important subject on Microsoft's agenda for both this year and this decade.
In April 2014, Microsoft was ordered by a US district court to turnover e-mail belonging to a customer under investigation despite that data being stored in its Dublin data center. Microsoft challenged this order but subsequently lost in July 2014 but planned an appeal to the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals. In light of this development, Judge Loretta Preska temporarily suspended her order but later rescinded that suspension after prosecutors successfully argued that her order could not be subject to appeal.
In September, Microsoft was found to be in contempt of court for its continued refusal to release the data demanded by US authorities. Prior to this incident, Microsoft had denied requests for data held offshore which belonged to US-based customers.
Today, in an article on The Official Microsoft Blog by Brad Smith, General Counsel and Executive Vice President, Legal and Corporate Affairs at Microsoft it seems that Microsoft is not alone in its fight. Ten groups have filed "friend of the court" briefs in support of Microsoft's stance. Amongst the leading technology companies involved are Apple, Amazon, AT&T, Verizon in addition to news and media companies including CNN, ABC, Fox News and the Washington Post.
Microsoft has published the entire list of signatories which also includes two of the largest US business organizations, civil liberties organizations, leading computer science professors as well as Digital Rights Ireland whose focus is upon privacy in Ireland and the EU.
Whilst Microsoft and various supporting members may be in competition with each other in their respective industries, it is reassuring to see these groups galvanized in their stance against authorities attempting to reach beyond their jurisdiction without due process.