Monday, 20 November, 2017

Supreme Court will decide on Microsoft, DOJ fight over global emails

US-Microsoft Fight on Irish Server Heads to High Court Supreme Court agrees to hear DOJ petition in Microsoft data warrant case
Elaine Woods | 17 October, 2017, 00:24

Finally, Smith argued that if the USA government acts unilaterally to seize emails located overseas with search warrants, there is little to stop foreign governments from exercising the same maneuver on data stored in the United States. The government contends a US -based company that receives a subpoena must turn over materials within its control, even if the materials are stored overseas.

At issue is a Federal Appeals Court ruling that denied federal investigators access to emails stored on Microsoft computers in Ireland.

The current state of the law doesn't mean that USA law enforcement has no access to data stored on foreign servers.

Supreme Court to decide whether prosecutors... The full 2nd Circuit split on whether to rehear the case.

A ruling in the DOJ's favor could dissuade customers from using cloud services. Microsoft refused to turn over the emails associated with the account, which were stored on servers in Ireland, spurring a legal battle that has dragged on for four years.

Rulings in both cases are due by the end of June.

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The lower court said a 1986 law that protects the privacy of electronic communications - and carves out an exception for law enforcement needs - doesn't extend to data kept in other countries.

"We will continue to press our case in court that the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA)-a law enacted decades before there was such a thing as cloud computing-was never meant to reach within other countries' borders", Brad Smith, Microsoft's president and chief legal officer, wrote in a blog post.

The Justice Department says the logic behind the appeals court decision would apply even if the account holder were a USA citizen living and committing crimes in this country.

While oral argument has not yet been scheduled, the Supreme Court will hear the case sometime in the next year.

The U.S. government had sought the emails in a drug trafficking investigation.

"Execution of a US warrant to seize documents in a foreign country is precisely the kind of foreign incursion that the presumption against extraterritoriality was created to prohibit, absent clear authorization by Congress", Microsoft said. In 2014, the court ruled that police need a warrant to search a cellphone seized during an arrest.

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