In an effort to demonstrate its policy toward government requests for data, Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith today detailed a now-public FBI Security Letter that Microsoft successfully blocked late last year.
The FBI wanted information about individual subscriber accounts of a Microsoft enterprise customer and included a nondisclosure provision in its Letter. However, Microsoft pledges to challenge requests that prevent the company from disclosing them to the customers in question.
“We concluded that the nondisclosure provision was unlawful and violated our Constitutional right to free expression,” Smith explained today. “It did so by hindering our practice of notifying enterprise customers when we receive legal orders related to their data.”
Once Microsoft challenged the letter, the FBI withdrew its request.
“This marks an important and successful step to protect Microsoft’s enterprise customers regarding government surveillance,” wrote Smith, who added that Microsoft was “pleased with the outcome of this case.”
In light of the recent NSA snooping issues, Smith outlined Microsoft’s stance against government requests back in December, noting a bevy of privacy-related goals that the company plans to set in place by the end of this year. Speaking at a privacy panel at the University of Washington last month, Smith also noted how Microsoft has increased encryption to protect against hacking of data outside of legal process.