DOJ battles with Senate over Microsoft

Microsoft's dispute with the government took an odd turn this week when three U.S. Senators accused the Justice Department (DOJ) of divulging confidential information about the software giant to foreign governments so that they could threaten their own legal action. The DOJ calls the charge "completely false," while admitting to "extremely limited" discussions with foreign governments.

"In each instance \[where the DOJ met with foreign governments\], Division personnel maintained the confidentiality of the Division's investigations," the DOJ wrote in a statement. "In no instance did the Division encourage a foreign government to initiate or threaten to initiate legal proceedings."

Senators Jeff Sessions of Alabama, Spencer Abraham of Michigan, and John Kyle of Arizona accused the DOJ of collaborating with foreign governments in its battle against Microsoft. They describe the charges in a six page document.

"Whatever the merits of the Department's various attacks on Microsoft, we hope that you will agree that it is an inappropriate use of U.S. taxpayer dollars to encourage--either purposefully or inadvertently--foreign governments to use their laws in a way that unfairly impairs the export opportunities of U.S. exporters," the document reads.

Needless to say, Microsoft took the charges as good news.

"We're grateful that these senators are raising these kinds of questions," said Microsoft spokesman Mark Murray. "We think it's unfortunate that a government agency would try to enlist foreign governments in attacking a successful U.S. company. We've gone the extra mile in cooperating fully with the government's investigation and we believe the government's accusations against Microsoft are unfounded.

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