Microsoft targets lawmakers with beach vacation ads

Microsoft targets lawmakers with beach vacation ads
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For the second year in a row, Microsoft is targeting policymakers with email privacy ads at a series of East Coast vacation spots during the August recess. 

The tech giant spent about $15,000 to run ads pushing for an update to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act. The newspaper ads will hit readers visiting Martha’s Vineyard, the Hamptons, the Delaware coast and the Outer Banks in North Carolina.

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President Obama is in the middle of a weeklong vacation on Martha’s Vineyard. 

Microsoft tried out the gimmick last year as well to call attention to legislation it is backing that would help battle law enforcement’s demand for user data stored abroad. 

“No one should get burned because of outdated protections. Yet American’s digital privacy laws are almost 30 years old — written long before most Americans had ever heard of email or the Internet,” the ad reads, below a picture of sunscreen resting on a towel in front of the ocean. 

“Enjoy your break. And don’t forget, there’s important work to be done when you get back to Washington,” the message continues. 

Microsoft is currently in a pitched battle with the Justice Department over user data that is stored on a server in Ireland. It is fighting a court order to hand over the information, saying the government needs to go through the correct treaty process to obtain the information. 

Microsoft has been pushing legislation that would put restrictions on what kind of information the government can force a U.S. company to hand over when the data is stored overseas. But tech companies have disagreed over the best legislative approach to take. 

The so-called Leads Act would also require law enforcement to obtain a warrant if it wants emails or other communications stored in the cloud. Under current law, only a subpoena is needed to force U.S. companies to hand over electronic communications more than 180 days old.