Oct 24, 2017

Microsoft will drop suit after DoJ agrees to limit use of gag orders

Microsoft President Brad Smith. Photo: AP

Microsoft said Monday it will drop a lawsuit against the federal government after the Justice Department agreed to limit its use of "gag orders" to prevent Internet service providers from notifying customers that the government has accessed their information.

Under the changes, the government will end the use of indefinite gag orders and limit its secrecy demands to the most serious of cases. Microsoft had filed suit back in April 2016.

What's next: Both Microsoft and outside groups called on the Senate to pass a bill, which has already unanimously passed the House, that would limit gag orders to 180 days.

Microsoft President and chief legal officer Brad Smith called the agreement an "unequivocal win for our customers."

""The binding policy issued today by the Deputy U.S. Attorney General should diminish the number of orders that have a secrecy order attached, end the practice of indefinite secrecy orders, and make sure that every application for a secrecy order is carefully and specifically tailored to the facts in the case," Smith said in a blog post. "This is an important step for both privacy and free expression."

The Center for Democracy and Technology, which had filed a brief in the case, praised the agreement as "an important improvement."

"It allows Americans to learn when they are being investigated by the government and — if that investigation is improper — take action to protect their privacy," CDT policy VP Chris Calabrese told Axios.

However, Calabrese cautioned that "the guidance is not a substitute for statutory reform" and urged Congress to take action.

Go deeper

In photos: How the coronavirus outbreak is impacting on daily lives

A woman receives a rose delivered to her via a drone in Lebanon's coastal city of Jounieh. Photo: Joseph EidAFP via Getty Images

The novel coronavirus pandemic is having a huge impact on the lives of people around the world.

The big picture: The first known case outside China was in Thailand on Jan. 13. Since then, global infection numbers have surged, and governments around the world have responded with measures designed to curb the spread of the virus — ranging from lockdowns to physical distancing enforcement. There were more than 723,000 confirmed COVID-19 infections by early Monday, per Johns Hopkins data). However, life hasn’t stopped because of the pandemic, but it has changed. Here's how.

See photosArrow26 mins ago - Health

World coronavirus updates: Global death toll surpasses 34,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

The novel coronavirus has now killed more than 34,000 people and infected over 723,000 others globally, per Johns Hopkins data. Italy reported more than 10,700 deaths early Monday.

The big picture: Governments around the world have stepped up public health and economic measures to stop the spread of the virus and soften the financial impact. In the U.S., now the site of the largest outbreak in the world, President Trump said Sunday that his administration will extend its "15 Days to Slow the Spread" guidelines until April 30,

Go deeperArrowUpdated 3 hours ago - Health

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 1 a.m. ET: 722,435 — Total deaths: 33,997 — Total recoveries: 151,991.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 1 a.m.. ET: 142,502 — Total deaths: 2,506 — Total recoveries: 4,856.
  3. Federal government latest: President Trump says his administration will extend its "15 Days to Slow the Spread" guidelines until April 30.
  4. Public health updates: Fauci says 100,000 to 200,000 Americans could die from virus.
  5. State updates: Louisiana governor says state is on track to exceed ventilator capacity by end of this week — Cuomo says Trump's mandatory quarantine comments "panicked" some people into fleeing New York
  6. World updates: Italy on Sunday reports 756 new deaths, bringing its total 10,779. Spain reports almost 840 dead, another new daily record that bring its total to over 6,500.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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