Microsoft and others have vigorously argued that their inability to disclose such information is hurting them and had resulted in all sorts of misperceptions about the government having direct access to their systems. Their concerns are also likely being fueled by recent warnings that the NSA's data collection activities could cost U.S. cloud companies billions of dollars in business going forward.
In his blog post, Smith noted that since June the U.S. Department of Justice has filed six extensions for time to respond to the complaints aired by Microsoft and Google in their lawsuits. Microsoft agreed to those extensions, he said.
Last month, the company asked U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to personally helpMicrosoft and others share more complete information on how they handle national security requests for customer data.
"We hoped that these discussions would lead to an agreement acceptable to all," Smith wrote. "While we appreciate the good faith and earnest efforts by the capable Government lawyers with whom we negotiated, we are disappointed that these negotiations ended in failure."
As a result, the company will "move forward with litigation in the hope that the courts will uphold our right to speak more freely," Smith wrote. "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."
Jaikumar Vijayan covers data security and privacy issues, financial services security and e-voting for Computerworld. Follow Jaikumar on Twitter at @jaivijayan or subscribe to Jaikumar's RSS feed. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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