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Amazon, Apple and Google back Microsoft fight over US gag orders

They've filed a brief supporting Microsoft's lawsuit against the government over secrecy in data requests.
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Sorsillo via Getty Images

Microsoft isn't going it alone in its lawsuit fighting gag orders for data requests. Amazon, Apple, Google and Mozilla have contributed to a friend-of-the-court brief supporting Microsoft's case against the US government over the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which lets officials bar companies from telling customers when officials want their info. In theory, the brief could sway the court's decision and have it deem the ECPA a violation of the constitutional right to be informed about searches and seizures.

It's not just tech industry giants contributing, either. Supporters range from oil giant BP through to the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Fox News. Even five former Department of Justice and FBI officials are supporting Microsoft.

There's no guarantee this will work. The Justice Department insists that Microsoft has no grounds for its lawsuit, that there are steps to protect rights and that there's a "compelling" interest in keeping criminal investigations secretive. However, as with tech companies supporting Apple in its battle against the FBI, the brief is a reminder that any ruling will have an effect on the rights of many people, not just Microsoft's users.

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