Microsoft is suing the US government over the right to inform its customers when a federal agency is looking at their emails.
The lawsuit filed on Wednesday in federal court in Washington state marks the latest clash over privacy between the tech industry and the government.
In its lawsuit, Microsoft accuses the government of violating the US Constitution by preventing the tech giant from notifying customers about data requests.
The lawsuit specifically accuses the government of violating the Fourth Amendment, which establishes the right for people to be “secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures”.
Microsoft alleges that federal agencies have circumvented the law by shifting their focus from seizing data locally on people’s computers to obtaining it from remote servers or the so-called cloud.
“People do not give up their rights when they move their private information from physical storage to the cloud,” Microsoft said its lawsuit, according to Reuters, which obtained a copy of it.
It added that the government “has exploited the transition to cloud computing as a means of expanding its power to conduct secret investigations”.
The US Justice Department has not commented on the lawsuit.
The move puts Microsoft on the front lines in the ongoing battle between technology companies and the government over how much businesses should assist government surveillance.
Apple has dominated the discussion in recent months after it refused an FBI request to crack an iPhone used by one of the terrorists involved in the San Bernardino attack.
Microsoft supported Apple’s position that co-operating with the government would turn businesses into arms of the state.