Microsoft is but one of many technology firms that have recently moved their focus from internal hard drives to the cloud, allowing people to access their data from anywhere in the world given the right details. The problem is other people also have access to this information, both legally and illegally and Microsoft is suing the US government over their attempts to force companies to remain quiet on the matter.
Microsoft has now filed a lawsuit against the Justice Department stating that it’s not just wrong but it’s “unconstitutional” that companies should be forced to remain silent when they are asked to hand over any data you might store in the cloud. In their complaint, Microsoft says that section 2705(b) of the Electronics Communications Privacy Act “sweeps too broadly” and effectively gives the government the power to gag companies, regardless of the reasons they are investigating someone. Microsoft even went so far as to name the number of secrecy orders they’d received in the past 18 months, a huge number sitting at almost 2,600.
The best part of almost 2.6 thousand secrecy orders, was that over two-thirds would never run out thanks to them containing “no fixed end date”. The end result is clear, Microsoft wants section 2705(b) ruled as unconstitutional and removed, a judgment that would affect every technology company based on the internet these days thanks to the broad range of uses that the cloud is utilized for.
Recently Reddit removed their Warrant canary, giving users a legal warning that the government had requested access to at least some of their information (possibly). While other companies, such as Apple has been arguing with the FBI over who and where the line should be drawn for gaining access to devices and the steps they can make companies provide to open the door for them.
In this day and age, we like to think that our information is well protected. We know that isn’t always true though with companies like TalkTalk and even children’s toy company VTech having their data exposed in hacks. So what about the people who have access to our information? Well, it would seem that Denver police could be in trouble after it was revealed that some of their officers have used their access to information for personal gain.
The report outlining this was created by independent monitor Nicholas Mitchell and lists not just one but multiple “wrongful searches” where an officer used their access to find out information beyond work needs. An example of this was when a female hospital employee spoke with an officer, only to return home and find a message on her personal phone. To make matters worse she had never given her contact details to the officer, who it turns out, used their access to the database to find out her contact details.
In another example, an officer received a call from a woman who was in a custody dispute with her boyfriend over their teenage daughter. The women learned that her ex and their daughter had been given a lift by another individual and asked an officer to run the licence plate of the individual, even providing the women with information from the search. The women in question than rang the individual and revealed that she had personal information, including his home address.
What is the worst part about all of these situations? It would appear that the officers in question were never truly punished, with the most someone suffered because of this was a few days suspension without pay. The misuse of government property and information, and, in fact, breaching people’s data privacy and security, is by all means criminal in nature and goes to show that sometimes when people are afraid of who has access to their data, they have more than a right to be worried.