According to a release from Brad Smith, Microsoft’s General Counsel, both Microsoft and Google are suing the Federal government for the right to disclose significantly more information regarding the scope of governmental surveillance. Apparently, negotiations to do so have broken down.
Over the past several weeks Microsoft and Google have pursued these talks in consultation with others across the technology sector. With the failure of our recent negotiations, we will move forward with litigation in the hope that the courts will uphold our right to speak more freely. And with a growing discussion on Capitol Hill, we hope Congress will continue to press for the right of technology companies to disclose relevant information in an appropriate way.
The United States has long been admired around the world for its leadership in promoting free speech and open discussion. We benefit from living in a country with a Constitution that guarantees the fundamental freedom to engage in free expression unless silence is required by a narrowly tailored, compelling Government interest. We believe there remains a path forward that will share more information with the public while protecting national security. Our hope is that the courts and Congress will ensure that our Constitutional safeguards prevail.
This should hardly be surprising, since lack of transparency places the online operations of both companies (and a host of others) at risk from major user departures, particularly for those outside the United States.