Almost a year ago now, Microsoft took the offensive against the US Department of Justice and filed a lawsuit in order to protect the privacy of its customers. In essence, the suit was over the governments use of gag orders when they requested Microsoft hand over the private information of customers. Microsoft – and many other companies – view this as a blatant refusal to abide by the fourth amendment.
The suit passed a massive hurdle today as it went through District Judge James Robart, of the Western Washington District Court – a man you may recognize as the judge who has been standing against Donald Trump’s attempts to refuse Muslims entry to the United States.
The source of the court’s conclusion is thus the product of established and binding precedent, which precludes the court from allowing Microsoft to vindicate Fourth Amendment rights that belong to its customers. This court cannot faithfully reconcile the broad language of those cases and Microsoft’s theory of Fourth Amendment standing on the facts of this case; that task is more properly left to higher courts.
This isn’t a massive decision that sets any kind of strong precedent against or in favor of digital privacy, but it’s a stepping stone to this lawsuit’s future. As this hurdle is passed, we’ll have to wait and see where this case goes from here – if anywhere.