The U.S. Department of Justice or DOJ has issued new guidelines regarding email searches prosecutors undertake from time to time. The new rules are being introduced to bring more transparency into the process, as well as curtail the secret demands prosecutors often make so that they can check private user data stored in a company’s server.

Apart from bringing transparency, the new rules will also end the infamous gag orders issued on tech companies. These gag orders basically prohibit the company from informing a consumer that their personal data was handed over to prosecutors because of legal demands.

The move led Microsoft to withdraw its case.

New orders get approval

The Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein approved the new guidelines last week. The new orders will also effectively end the indefinite gag orders, which were imposed on a company, preventing them from informing their consumer base of the incident. In April 2016, Microsoft became the first tech firm to challenge the infamous Gag Order. The Redmond-based firm filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government, seeking for the removal of this gag order. The company asked the court to give it the right to inform its consumers when authorities were searching their emails without their knowledge. A Fortune report reveals that the government took advantage of this gag order and used it to sieve through personal emails in many investigations every year.

Moreover, it did not provide an end date to tech firms for this forced secrecy.

Microsoft declares win over the end of email search gag order

Following the issuance of the new rules, Microsoft announced that it would be dropping the lawsuit as the ban against which it rallied no longer exists. According to the company, the new rules approved by the Deputy Attorney General not only curb the use of these secret orders but also enforce the government to state a defined period between which it will search.

With the new rules in place, Brad Smith, the chief legal officer and president of Microsoft, agreed to drop the lawsuit. However, he stated that this is just the beginning of some of the most necessary changes that should be brought about in the American constitution. Following this decision, Smith called upon the Congress to make changes in the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986, which is central to the ongoing dispute.

Microsoft fought back against gag order with support from many others

According to Fortune, before the announcement of these new rules, Microsoft was issued an estimated 2,576 gag orders in a time span of 18 months. Out of this number of orders, almost two third of it never came with a definite end date. Following the issuance of this many gag orders, the company decided to fight back against the government. Microsoft received support from many other tech firms, businesses, and civil liberty groups.

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