Cloud servers subject to federal agent probing without notice

Tonda Rush

Jan 6, 2021

Journalists need confidentiality for news sources and materials when their documents are stored on the cloud, NNA and other media groups told the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in December. An amicus brief authored by Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and law firm Orrick Herrington and Sutcliffe was filed in a battle between the federal government and Microsoft.  Under national security laws, cloud servers can be probed by federal agents without notice to the authors or owners of the files. In some cases, the server owner, like Microsoft, is gagged by the government and cannot even disclose that it has received a request for access to confidential records.  The ability of the federal government to do end runs around state confidentiality statutes and federal regulations meant to protect newsgathering has long been a flash point for journalists.