News reports earlier this month revealed that the National Security Agency (NSA) has been obtaining the communications of Internet users through a program called PRISM. Microsoft and Google were two of the nine companies identified in a leaked slide show describing the program.
The NSA claims that the program, authorized under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, only targets people outside of the United States. The companies vehemently denied giving the government direct access to their servers or handing over massive batches of their users' information.
But the revelations shook the reputations of the tech giants, which depend on their users' trusting them with their most sensitive information.
In its motion, filed last week and made public on Wednesday, Microsoft claimed that FISA does not prohibit companies from publishing aggregated statistics about the national security requests for data.
"The First Amendment does not permit the Government to bar Microsoft from speaking about an issue of great importance to its customers, shareholders, and the public while, simultaneously, senior Government officials are speaking publicly about the very same subject," Microsoft wrote.
Both Microsoft and Google already publish regular reports about government requests for data, but the companies have been barred about discussing the FISA court orders.