HOW TO SERVE LEGAL PAPERS ON MICROSOFT CORPORATION

Microsoft

Undisputed Legal | California Process Service

Microsoft Corporation is an American global technology corporation that manufactures personal computers, computers, and associated products. The Microsoft Windows series of operating systems, the Microsoft Office suite, and the Internet Explorer and Edge web browsers are well-known software products from Microsoft. Xbox video gaming consoles and Microsoft Surface touchscreen personal PCs are the company’s two most notable hardware offerings. The company also produces a wide range of other consumer and enterprise software for desktops, laptops, tabs, gadgets, and servers, including Internet search (with Bing), the digital services market (through MSN), mixed reality (HoloLens), cloud computing (Azure), and software development (Visual Studio).

Among the most prominent information technology firms in the U.S., Facebook, Google, Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft are dubbed the  “Big Five.”

[1.0] BACKGROUND

In 1975, Bill Gates and Paul Allen established Microsoft to create and sell BASIC interpreters for the Altair 8800, which was a microcomputer. With MS-DOS in the mid-1980s, it came to dominate the personal computer operating system industry, and then with Microsoft Windows in the 1990s, it solidified its position. Three billionaires and thousands of more millionaires were minted after Microsoft’s 1986 initial public offering (IPO) led to a subsequent increase in the company’s share price.  Skype Technologies was then acquired by Microsoft in May 2011 for over eight billion, making it the company’s biggest purchase since it diversified from the operating system industry in the 1990s.  However, the largest acquisition of Microsoft still remains LinkedIn for a whopping twenty-six billion dollars in December 2016.

After Satya Nadella became CEO in 2014, the firm decided to focus on cloud computing, rather than on their existing hardware manufacturing, and this subsequently contributed to the company’s shares rising to their highest level since December 1999.

[2.0] HOW TO SERVE PROCESS ON MICROSOFT

The Washington location of Microsoft Corporation at One Microsoft Way is known unofficially as the Microsoft Redmond campus. In 1986, four weeks before Microsoft went public, the firm relocated into the school grounds on February 26th. Since the foundation of the headquarters, it has undergone numerous expansions. California Process Service of legal papers to Microsoft should be done via the entity’s compliance team. In order to serve a civil subpoena, order, or criminal warrant, it must be identified whether the entity is to be served online or upon the Microsoft Subsidiary. For California Process Service via email or fax, the Microsoft Online Services Custodian of Records is responsible. 

However, California Process Service via mail may still be rendered upon this location. In order for service via mail to be acceptable, it is necessary to specify the address of California Process Service. The company also has satellite offices situated in Bellevue and Issaquah, Washington. A large-scale campus renovation is being planned for the Mountain View headquarters. This business has had its headquarters on this site since 1981. 

[3.0] HOW DOES MICROSOFT DEAL WITH LAW ENFORCEMENT REQUESTS

Microsoft releases two annual reports listing the amount of law enforcement agency requests for consumer data they receive throughout the globe. It should be known that in order to lawfully get consumer data, the government must comply with relevant legislation. Non-content data may be requested using a subpoena or its equivalent California Process Service requirement, but content data can only be requested with a warrant or a court order with adequate California Process Service.

It must be established that law enforcement is necessary to keep consumers secure and ensure their data remains free from misuse or exploitation. However, although this data sharing is an essential part of the public discourse on the proper balance between consumer privacy and public safety, it is necessary for a subpoena to adhere to the requirements of California Process Service before it may be acceptable. 

In order to release material, companies need a warrant (or equivalent California Process Service) before moving forward. The US v. Warshak decision which holds that email users retain a reasonable expectation of privacy in the content of their emails is the same principle used by all organizations, whereinafter a  warrant is needed in order to obtain data from which information about a crime will be found. This information must be presented by the government to a determining judge and the judge must be convinced that there is probable cause to believe a crime has been committed, and that evidence of that crime will be found in the data requested.

 A warrant may only be issued if the alleged offense occurs inside the jurisdiction that seeks the warrant. The disclosure of content data by subpoena must be restricted due to the relative ease of obtaining a subpoena from the government. This is how Microsoft would react to any other court order requiring the disclosure of confidential information that does not meet the warrant or comparable California Process Service requirement due to probable cause.

For data hosted in the US, Microsoft follows the Electronic Communications Privacy Act. It would require at least a subpoena before the company could hand over non-content records, such as basic subscriber information or IP connection history, and the entity would require a warrant or its equivalent prior to providing the same. Irish Process Service law and European Union Process Service directives apply to the Hotmail and Outlook.com accounts hosted in Ireland. It must be noted that the US law- the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act- does not currently apply to many Microsoft services, including Skype, because they are not considered telecommunications services.

For Microsoft, only legally issued and properly signed California Process Service that complies with federal or local law and regulations will do. Entities should be prepared to provide information to law enforcement solely upon receiving a subpoena or similar document, and if the investigation involves content, then the information may be disclosed upon the seeking of a warrant (or its local equivalent). The Microsoft team in charge of handling customer data compliance looks through requests from governments to ensure that they are correct, rejects the invalid ones, and only provides the information mandated by the law. It should be understood that California Process Service requests should emanate from the enterprise clients that Microsoft engages as well. As a global company, California Process Service and subpoena requests should be addressed appropriately and to the right entity, including if the entity is an affiliate of Microsoft. 

All law enforcement requests that concern Microsoft are mandated to pass through a secure portal, for which only vetted law enforcement agencies receive access. Microsoft will have to evaluate the demand and make a determination about the data that will be given. After it does this, the required data will be sent to law enforcement through a secure gateway.

[3.2] WHEN DOES A SUBPOENA REQUEST BECOME MANDATORY

Despite the California Process Service being required to verify data requested by law enforcement agencies, Microsoft will have to hand over any pictures that may be in violation of U.S. laws to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. When it comes to issues like self-harm, or publishing threatening messages in public forums, Microsoft will often disclose limited information on a user to keep other individuals safe. Microsoft customers and employees, as well as Microsoft itself, may provide certain restricted California Process Service information to law authorities if one of the customers or employees, or the company is the victim of a crime. Microsoft also provides information in compliance with applicable California Process Service law and industry practice where the company may assess that the disclosure is required to avert an imminent emergency in which the death or severe bodily harm of an individual is likely to occur.

Law enforcement agencies across the globe would have to contact  Microsoft with an emergency request and they must send  California Process Service requests for assistance in writing on official letterhead, signed by an officer of the law enforcement organization. It must include a brief description of the situation as well as a statement detailing how the information that is being requested would help the authorities in responding to the crisis. Microsoft’s compliance team handles each request in detail before any data is provided, and the data provided is focused on providing law enforcement with the tools needed to deal with the situation. Domestic violence, threats of suicide, and abductions are among the most frequent requests received by the emergency service. Once every six months, Microsoft will broadcast public information in this Law Enforcement Requests Report on the emergency requests that they may receive.

[3.3] RESTRICTING THE SCOPE OF A SUBPOENA

Sometimes Microsoft seeks to restrict the scope of their California Process Service requests by either asking the government to only disclose a certain kind or quantity of data or by asking the agency to search for the data on its own. The request centers around Microsoft’s commercial services: therefore when a request is made, the entity will always refer the government to the customers to get the information directly. government agencies can go directly to business or government customers for information about one of their employees. It is also possible that the government may pursue a formal legal challenge in court to obtain a modification or an annulment of a legal order.

To protect a person from coming to harm, Microsoft will sometimes disclose to criminal law enforcement agencies the information available. This is done in highly limited circumstances and as depicted by law.  Microsoft handles California Process Service requests from law enforcement departments across the globe, which they consider a necessary component of their support for law enforcement. To request anything, one must follow proper channels by sending a letter of request on official letterhead, with the signature of a law enforcement authority. In order to qualify for the request, a description of the situation and how the information would help law enforcement must be included. 

Microsoft’s compliance team handles each request in detail before any data is provided, and the data provided is focused on providing law enforcement with the tools needed to deal with the situation. Suicide threats and kidnapping are among the most frequent emergency requests.

[4.0] REQUIREMENT TO NOTIFY A CUSTOMER.

Customers whose data is requested by a civil action plaintiff will be notified prior to civil litigation taking place via adequate California Process Service. Although Microsoft may be requested to prevent customers from finding out about legal proceedings,  Microsoft is not legally obligated to keep customers in the dark and should request customers to be notified. Occasionally, Microsoft will contact their customer to let them know about the nondisclosure order and then dispute it. Some jurisdictions provide detailed information to the seeking party that giving notice would not be detrimental to their interests in the underlying lawsuit.

Microsoft may reject or challenge a request if it exceeds the authority or jurisdiction of the requesting agency or if it is not signed or not appropriately authorized, contains the wrong dates, is not properly addressed, contains material mistakes, or is overly broad.

[4.1] PROCESS FOR DISCLOSING CUSTOMER INFORMATION IN RESPONSE TO GOVERNMENT LEGAL DEMANDS

Microsoft requires an official, signed document issued pursuant to local law and rules. Specifically, the entity would require a subpoena or equivalent before disclosing non-content, and only disclose the content to law enforcement in response to a warrant (or its local equivalent). Microsoft’s compliance team reviews government demands for customer data to ensure the requests are valid rejects those that are not valid and only provides the data specified in the legal order.

Microsoft can also deny a FISA order requesting disclosure of noncontent. This category would include any FISA business records (50 U.S.C. § 1861), commonly referred to as 215 orders, and FISA pen register and trap and trace orders (50 U.S.C. § 1842) that were received or active during the reporting period.

Microsoft regained its status as the world’s most valuable publicly listed corporation in 2018, a year after Apple displaced it. On April 1st, 2019, Microsoft achieved a market capitalization of over a trillion dollars, the third such event for the U.S. public market. Currently, Microsoft’s brand value is third globally

For more information on serving legal papers, contact Undisputed Legal our California Process Service department at (800) 774-6922. Representatives are available Monday-Friday 8 am – 8 pm EST.  If you found this article helpful, please consider donating.  Thank you for following our blog, A space dedicated to bringing you news on breaking legal developments, interesting articles for law professionals, and educational material for all. We hope that you enjoy your time on our blog and revisit us!  We also invite you to check out our Frequently Asked Questions About Process Servers.

Sources

1. As of 2015, Microsoft is market-dominant in the IBM PC compatible operating system market and the office software suite market, although it has lost the majority of the overall operating system market to Android

2. Bing is a search engine available in 40 languages. It is a subsidiary of Microsoft. It was launched in 2009 by Microsoft Corporation. It provides search services like image, video, web, maps, etc.  Process Service address: One Microsoft Way, Redmond, WA 98052, USA

3. Address for Process Service:1000 W. Maude Avenue Sunnyvale, CA 94085

4. “The Philosophy and Practice of Our Hybrid Workplace.” The Official Microsoft Blog, 30 Mar. 2021, blogs.microsoft.com/blog/2021/03/22/the-philosophy-and-practice-of-our-hybrid-workplace/. 

5. Legal documents fax to 425-708-0096 attn: Custodian of Records.Phone: 425-722-1299 (law enforcement) (1 or 0 for emergencies only, or follow the prompts by service for non-emergencies and follow-ups) FAX: 425-708-0096 (preferred service method).

6. Redmond, WA  98052-6399

7. Microsoft operates an East Coast headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina

8. Condon, Stephanie. “Microsoft Reports Increase in US Law Enforcement Data Requests in 2020.” ZDNet, ZDNet, 15 Apr. 2021, www.zdnet.com/article/microsoft-reports-increase-in-us-law-enforcement-data-requests-in-2020/. 

9. United States v. Warshak, 631 F.3d 266 (6th Cir. 2010) is a criminal case decided by the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit holding that government agents violated the defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights by compelling his Internet service provider (ISP) to turn over his emails without first obtaining a search warrant based on probable cause. However, constitutional violation notwithstanding, the evidence obtained with these emails was admissible at trial because the government agents relied in good faith on the Stored Communications Act (SCA). The court further declared that the SCA is unconstitutional to the extent that it allows the government to obtain emails without a warrant.

10. The Electronic Communications Privacy Act and the Stored Wire Electronic Communications Act are commonly referred to together as the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) of 1986.  The ECPA updated the Federal Wiretap Act of 1968, which addressed interception of conversations using “hard” telephone lines but did not apply to interception of computer and other digital and electronic communications.  

11. Ians. “Microsoft Faces Subpoena in Google’s Antitrust Case in the United States.” Business Standard, Business-Standard, 31 July 2021, www.business-standard.com/article/technology/microsoft-faces-subpoena-in-google-s-antitrust-case-in-united-states-121073100298_1.html. 

12. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA) 50 U.S.C. §§ 1801-11, 1821-29, 1841-46, 1861-62, 1871.  FISA, as amended, establishes procedures for the authorization of electronic surveillance, use of pen registers and trap and trace devices, physical searches, and business records for the purpose of gathering foreign intelligence.

13. 50 U.S. Code § 1861 – Access to certain business records for foreign intelligence and international terrorism investigations

14. The company is run by a board of directors made up of mostly company outsiders, as is customary for publicly traded companies. Members of the board of directors as of July 2020 are Satya Nadella, Reid Hoffman, Hugh Johnston, Teri List-Stoll, Sandi Peterson, Penny Pritzker, Charles Scharf, Arne Sorenson, John W. Stanton, John W. Thompson, Emma Walmsley, and Padmasree Warrior

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