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Sep
04

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WASHINGTON: Tech­no­logy, media, pharmaceutical and other companies, along with major corporate lobbying groups, filed legal briefs on Friday in support of a Microsoft Corp lawsuit that aims to strike down a law preventing companies from telling customers the government is seeking their data.

Friday was the deadline for filing of friend-of-the-court briefs by nonparticipants in the case. The filings show broad support for Microsoft and the technology industry in its latest high-profile clash with the US Justice Depart­ment over digital privacy and surveillance.

Microsoft’s backers inclu­ded the US Chamber of Com­merce, the National Associa­tion of Manufacturers, Delta Air Lines Inc, Eli Lilly and Co, BP America, the Wash­ing­ton Post, Fox News, the National Newspaper Associa­tion, Apple Inc, Alphabet Inc’s Google, Amazon.com Inc, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and many others.

Microsoft filed its lawsuit in Seattle federal court in April, arguing that a law allowing the government to seize computer data located on third-party computers and often barring companies from telling their customers that they are targets is unconstitutional.

The Justice Department argues that Microsoft has no standing to bring the case and the public has a “compelling interest in keeping criminal investigations confidential.” Procedural safeguards also protect constitutional rights, it contends. A Justice Depart­ment spokesman declined comment on Friday’s filings.

Microsoft says the government is violating the Fourth Amendment, which establishes the right for people and businesses to know if the government searches or seizes their property, in addition to Microsoft’s First Amendment right to free speech.

In the suit, which focuses on the storage of data on remote servers that are often referred to as “cloud” computers, Microsoft said it had been subjected to 2,600 federal court orders within the past 18 months prohibiting the company from informing customers their data was given to authorities pursuing criminal investigations.

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