Microsoft is again targeting policy makers with email secrecy ads at numerous East Coast vacation spots during the August holidays. The tech firm has paid nearly $15,000 to lobby policy makers to update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, says a report from The Hill.
Similar tactics also used last year
The Justice Department and Microsoft are currently in a tussle over user data stored on a server in Ireland. The company is objecting a court order that wants it to hand over the user information. The tech firm objects, saying the government needs to follow a legal process for getting the information. The case in question involves a U.S. citizen who has been accused narcotics trafficking, and an MSN email served located in Dublin, Ireland.
To grab legislator’s attention, Microsoft tried similar tactics last year as well. One of the ads showed a picture of a bottle of sunscreen relaxing on a towel in front of the sea, reading, “No one should get burned because of outdated protections. Yet American’s digital privacy laws are almost 30 years old — written long before most Americans had ever heard of email or the Internet.” The message goes on to say that everyone should enjoy their time off, but also remember the important work that has to be done upon returning to Washington.
The Outer Banks in North Carolina, Martha’s Vineyard, the Hamptons and the Delaware coast are some of the vacation locations where the tech firm is running the ads. Of note, Martha’s Vineyard is the destination for President Obama’s week-long vacation.
Microsoft in favor of correct treaty process
Microsoft is trying to create restrictions on government access to data by having a specific set of regulations to follow when data is stored in a foreign country is requested by law enforcement. Most of tech firms are still not sure on the best legislative approach to take to tackle this issue.
Based on current law, only a subpoena is required to force a U.S. firm to provide electronic communications which are older than 180 days. However, the so-called Leads Act would also require law enforcement agencies to get a warrant if they want data, email or other electronic communication stored in the cloud, says the report.
As of around 11.30 am Thursday, Microsoft shares were down 0.25% at $46.63. Year to date, the stock is off almost 1%, while over the last 12 months shares are up almost 6%.