In a significant victory for transparency and free speech, a federal judge in Seattle granted Microsoft(s msft) permission to unseal documents related to an FBI investigation into one of its cloud customers.
The case relates to a National Security Letter issued to Microsoft in 2013 that ordered the company to turn over information about one of its enterprise customers, whose identity remains a secret. The customer stores data on Microsoft’s Office 365, a service that lets companies keep email and work collaboration tools in the cloud.
Under the terms of the security letter, Microsoft was barred from disclosing the request to its customer or even describing the letter’s existence. These so-called “gag orders” have been an ongoing source of contention between the tech industry and the government, especially in the wake of leaks by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
Microsoft challenged the letter in court, saying the law the FBI used to obtain it violated the First…
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