Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith criticized secret data subpoenas sent by the government to cloud providers like his company and Apple, saying gag orders on requests for personal information undermine freedoms and are hurting U.S. technology companies in Europe.
Last week The New York Times reported that during the administration of former President Donald Trump, the U.S. Department of Justice demanded records from Apple relating to two Democrats on the U.S. House Intelligence Committee. CNBC reported Microsoft received a confidential request for the personal emails of a congressional staffer. Both companies were under nondisclosure orders that prevented them from talking about or alerting the subjects of the data seizures.
The U.S. government should change the rules so that people whose data is being demanded can be informed and choose whether to file a legal challenge to the subpoenas, Smith said Monday in an interview with Bloomberg Television. Microsoft in 2016 filed a case against the Justice Department related to the gag orders, and a year later the department issued new guidelines it said would scale back the practice of these kinds of confidential requests.