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Government Microsoft Privacy

Microsoft Fends Off Data Request, FBI Gets Data Another Way 152

Posted by Soulskill
from the more-than-one-way-to-eavesdrop-on-a-cat dept.
An anonymous reader writes "In a time when the government avows that it cannot carry out justice without issuing secret warrants and National Security Letters to anyone other than the suspect, it is truly noteworthy when news breaks that the FBI, facing push-back from the likes of a company such as Microsoft, finds that it can indeed gather the information it needs for its investigation through a regular search warrant applied directly to its suspect. Such was the case on Thursday. Court documents (PDF) reveal that Microsoft filed a petition against the National Security Letter (NSL) it received involving one of its customers, citing violations to the First Amendment. The FBI later withdrew the NSL and went after their suspect in the old, Constitutionally-sound way. A federal judge ruled last year that the NSLs impinge on free speech' That judgement has been stayed, of course, pending appeal."
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Microsoft Fends Off Data Request, FBI Gets Data Another Way

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  • by mmell (832646) <mmell@hotmail.com> on Friday May 23, 2014 @01:08PM (#47075793)
    to gather evidence.

    In other words, roping in government information gathering abilities is an exercise in futility. If Google/Microsoft/Apple/IBM/etc. won't directly surrender confidential or sensitive personal information, they can get it another way. In effect, citizens have no right or expectation of privacy from the government.

    In other news today: water still wet, fire still hot. Film at eleven.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 23, 2014 @01:15PM (#47075875)

      Nobody in all of these debates has been arguing that the government shouldn't have access to information to investigate crime, catch terrorists, etc.
      We just want them to be made to follow the rules, especially the Bill of Rights.

    • by gstoddart (321705) on Friday May 23, 2014 @01:22PM (#47076009) Homepage

      In other words, roping in government information gathering abilities is an exercise in futility. If Google/Microsoft/Apple/IBM/etc. won't directly surrender confidential or sensitive personal information, they can get it another way. In effect, citizens have no right or expectation of privacy from the government.

      Well, you know, what the net effect was that they went back and got a good old fashioned warrant from a judge.

      They didn't go directly to Microsoft and successfully get the information without any oversight. They had to get a judge to sign off on it.

      This is the way they're supposed to be getting it. Judges may or may not rubber stamp it, but at least it's gone through a process -- lately they've just been getting information without a warrant or oversight on the basis that they want it.

      If anything, this is (hopefully) the beginning of things swinging back to these agencies being required to show cause and follow the proper procedures, instead of just side-stepping those and getting it on demand.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        In other words, roping in government information gathering abilities is an exercise in futility. If Google/Microsoft/Apple/IBM/etc. won't directly surrender confidential or sensitive personal information, they can get it another way. In effect, citizens have no right or expectation of privacy from the government.

        Well, you know, what the net effect was that they went back and got a good old fashioned warrant from a judge.

        They didn't go directly to Microsoft and successfully get the information without any ov

  • Forcing the FBI to follow due process will be the dea... wait, you mean nobody died and the FBI got what it wanted legally? Isn't the FBI aware that they're supposed to wait until after everyone dies to do anything so they can insist that they need more unconstitutional powers to protect us?

    Clearly someone did not get the memo.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      If you read the documents, the FBI wanted data on the activities of a Microsoft enterprise customer not one of the common people.

      • If you read the documents, the FBI wanted data on the activities of a Microsoft enterprise customer not one of the common people.

        "If you're not cop, you're little people"

  • by NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) on Friday May 23, 2014 @01:11PM (#47075837)
    They could end up on Double-Secret Probation.
  • by pslytely psycho (1699190) on Friday May 23, 2014 @01:18PM (#47075921) Journal
    ....Doesn't every other article on /. claim MS gives the (favorite three letter agency goes here) backdoors to all of their clients machines? Why would they even need to talk to MS at all if this is true?
    Or has /. become the new National Enquirer?
    • by Kardos (1348077)

      So you're saying this is a thinly veiled publicity stunt to help restore MS's reputation?

      • That could very well be.

        Either that, or we have made ourselves so paranoid of spying (with good reason!) that we have made to boogeyman more powerful than he really is....

        Sometimes I suspect our speculations have become fact via repetition.

        I personally, am going to fire one up, sit back, and observe. The world has become a Tragic Comedy, and I feel the third act is near.
    • by Pitawg (85077)

      .... /. claim MS gives the (favorite three letter agency goes here) backdoors to all of their clients machines?

      That was in the era where software was delivered/obtained and installed on the users computer. This is the age of server based subscription applications. They were only allowing back doors into other people's equipment, never MS server total access if they could help it.

      --
      Do unto others, never me. -- MS

  • Hurray! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 23, 2014 @01:18PM (#47075941)

    Hooray! Go Microsoft!....

    What?... What did I say?

  • by Virtucon (127420) on Friday May 23, 2014 @01:25PM (#47076059)

    In reading the documents, the NSL surrounded a Microsoft enterprise customer. This could have been around Azure or any other professional service that Microsoft offers to organizations. Since the documents provided don't disclose a who, it could be assumed that the FBI was looking into a company, not an individual. Since everything else around this case is sealed, we'll never know who or what organization was targeted by the NSL which again problematic in a free country.

    I find this other statement hilarious.

    The FBI obtained the requested information through lawful means from a third party, the Customer, in a way that maintains the confidentiality of the underlying investigation

    It's obvious that the Customer knows now that they're targeted in an investigation and "lawful" means would imply that the NSL wasn't legal or possibly that the FBI uses "unlawful" means of obtaining information? I guess I just find the wording funny, I mean they could have just said "we obtained a search warrant and served it directly on the suspect."

    • "we obtained a search warrant and served it directly on the suspect."

      Non-starter. No entertainment value. What do you want? News?
      • by Virtucon (127420)

        I'd like to know how they can do something "lawful" and obtain the information from the customer without disclosing what the "underlying investigation" is about?

        • Because they rolled a lawful evil character?

          Seriously though...you make a good point. It's all more cloak and dagger bullshit.
        • by NoKaOi (1415755)

          I'd like to know how they can do something "lawful" and obtain the information from the customer without disclosing what the "underlying investigation" is about?

          Presumably (if "lawful" is correct) they would have had to disclose what the investigation was about to the judge, but I think the implication is that they didn't have to disclose it to the suspect.

          • by Virtucon (127420)

            true but other than a wire tap I can't think of anything that wouldn't require tipping the customer off. Oh well, someday we may know exactly what this was all about.

    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      In reading the documents, the NSL surrounded a Microsoft enterprise customer.

      It's worth noting that Microsoft only seems to include enterprise customers in their notification policy.
      The millions of @live customers can get fucked when the FBI shows up with an NSL letter.

  • the FBI, .... finds that it can indeed gather the information it needs for its investigation through a regular search warrant applied directly to its suspect.

    This works for past bad deeds. Where the evidence of a crime already exists and only needs to be collected. It doesn't help with collecting data in anticipation of future wrongdoing.

    This works to deter people or organizations who don't want to get caught after the fact. It doesn't help in the event that organization doesn't care one way or another. Like the people flying planes into buildings. Sure, go ahead and charge them with a crime. They are beyond caring.

    What this comes down to is: In order to live

    • What this comes down to is: In order to live in a society with the sort of freedoms we have beed accustomed to for the past few hundred years, we are going to have to live with 3000 lives more or less lost every decade or so. On the other hand, we could live in neat and orderly society. But I don't want to be caned for chewing gum in public. I'll put up with the occasional sticky wad under the bus seat in exchange for my freedom.

      I think I'd go along with you and accept those risks in exchange for our freedoms and Constitutional tradition. Since that death toll is on par with the number of Native American/Alaskan/Eskimo/Inuit women who die in the same timeframe from injuries involving motorized land transportation, it's clearly a number that we can deal with.

      Now if anyone says: "well, try telling that to the families of the victims of terrorism" I would have to counter that we don't feel compelled to put on sackcloth and ashes over

      • by NoKaOi (1415755)

        Now if anyone says: "well, try telling that to the families of the victims of terrorism" I would have to counter that we don't feel compelled to put on sackcloth and ashes over all the far more numerous but less dramatic deaths that occur all around us all the time.

        And I would counter with, "you think our freedoms should be taken away? How about all the soldiers who have died throughout the past couple of centuries, including over half a million in the last century, to defend that freedom?"

    • Where the evidence of a crime already exists and only needs to be collected. It doesn't help with collecting data in anticipation of future wrongdoing.

      Umm, we don't actually WANT the government "collecting data in anticipation of future wrongdoing".

      Not now, not ever.

      Whatever else happens, we do NOT need a Pre-Crime unit.

    • by NoKaOi (1415755) on Friday May 23, 2014 @05:41PM (#47079001)

      the FBI, .... finds that it can indeed gather the information it needs for its investigation through a regular search warrant applied directly to its suspect.

      This works for past bad deeds. Where the evidence of a crime already exists and only needs to be collected. It doesn't help with collecting data in anticipation of future wrongdoing.

      No, it's called probable cause. They don't need to have evidence yet, they only need to have probable cause that such evidence exists. If they can't show an actual reason why such evidence probably exists, why should they get to invade your privacy or take your stuff? That's what some big chunks of the constitution are all about.

      • by PPH (736903)

        Right. Probable cause that evidence exists of a crime that has been commited.

        What I'm saying is that collecting intelligence pointing to a crime that might be commited in the future is stepping over the bounds of how this country was originally envisioned. The occasional conspiracy may develop into a full blown crime or act of terrorism. But I'd rather lose 3000 people once every dozen years than give up the principles upon which this country was founded.

        • by NoKaOi (1415755)

          Right. Probable cause that evidence exists of a crime that has been commited.

          What I'm saying is that collecting intelligence pointing to a crime that might be commited in the future is stepping over the bounds of how this country was originally envisioned. The occasional conspiracy may develop into a full blown crime or act of terrorism. But I'd rather lose 3000 people once every dozen years than give up the principles upon which this country was founded.

          Conspiracy is a crime, even if the crime you're conspiring about hasn't been committed yet. Therefore, if there is probable cause of conspiracy, then they can get a warrant to gather actual evidence. Thoughtcrime is not a crime, but once you start planning carrying it out with other people it is. I think we both agree that probable cause to invade our privacy or take our stuff is a legal requirement, we're just debating the one little point of thoughtcrime vs conspiracy vs carrying out the act.

          But I'd rather lose 3000 people once every dozen years than give up the principles upon which this country was founded.

          And which

  • Would Microsoft have files the petition if this kind of thing wasn't in the spotlight these days? MS' reputation has taken heavy damage in the US and abroad, they hardly have a platform that hasn't been in the news for the wrong reasons; Windows, Skype, Xbox One Kinect. Feels like posturing.
  • So the Slashdot is now generally in favor of NSLs and such? We obviously must be if Microsoft is against them.

    Or is Microsoft not really against them but secretly complied while putting on a good public show in the court system and all?

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