Bill Gates has criticized the U.S. government for preventing Microsoft from notifying its customers of instances when authorities search through their data and emails.
In an interview with Reuters, the Microsoft co-founder vocalized his support of a lawsuit filed by his company that challenges the U.S. government's data request policies.
"There probably are some cases where (the government) should be able to go in covertly and get information about a company’s email," Gates said at a Reuters Newsmaker event in Washington. "But the position Microsoft is taking in this suit is that it should be extraordinary and it shouldn't be a matter of course that there is a gag order automatically put in."
The lawsuit, which was filed by the Redmond-based company in federal court on Thursday, seeks to expand the tech giant's ability to notify customers of data requests.
Microsoft's complaint is motivated not only by consumer privacy but also by concerns over whether customers will want to continue purchasing its information technology solutions if they know the U.S. government might be covertly searching their data stored in the cloud.
"It's really about the concerns that the average consumer or even business operator who would be procuring information technology for their company would have about using U.S. tech products and services," explained Daniel Castro, vice president at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, as quoted by Vice News.
Ultimately, Gates feels that the best way forward is for privacy advocates and law enforcement agencies to work together and determine how data requests can acknowledge consumer privacy.
"I don’t think there are any absolutists who think the government should be able to get everything or the government should be able to get nothing," he said.
News of Microsoft's lawsuit follows nearly one month after the FBI successfully cracked the San Bernardino terrorist's iPhone without the assistance of rival tech company Apple.
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