Supreme Court appears unconvinced of Microsoft’s defence for non-disclosure of EU stored data.

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) and tech giant Microsoft have been embroiled in, an at times, bitter legal dispute over access to data (mostly emails) stored in data centres overseas, in this case, the European Union.

As part of a long running criminal investigation centered in New York, the DOJ has been attempting to access emails held on Microsoft servers in Ireland.

However, Microsoft, in conjunction with the EU, have argued, that any personal data held there in Ireland is in fact governed by strict EU rules regarding privacy, and cannot be handed over or divulged without exacting due process.

For its part the EU says that the US DOJ should follow procedures put in place to access the information. The DOJ however claims that following the EU due process is time is unwieldy and excessively time consuming.

US Supreme Court Set To Rule Against Microsoft In EU Email Privacy Case

A representation of the Microsoft Cloud. In reality there are a lot more wires, and a lot less water vapour. In fact, there’s virtually no moisture at all.

 

Five years and counting

The dispute began in 2013, when federal agents served a search warrant on Microsoft’s Redmond, Washington, headquarters, seeking the contents of an MSN.com account they claimed was being used to conduct drug trafficking.

As we reported back in July 2016, Microsoft had been challenging an earlier court decision that had granted the US Department of Justice a warrant seeking emails stored on a server in one of Microsoft’s European data centers, located in Dublin.

The warrant specifically centered on electronic mail that related to a major narcotics prosecution in the US.  While the origin of the original emails is still unknown, Microsoft had argued that the warrant did not entitle the DOJ access to the Dublin server because US. law does not apply to Ireland.

Tech backing

A number of fellow tech companies had publicly backed Microsoft in its appeal, filing arguments to the appeals court in support of the Redmond, Washington based tech company, including Amazon, Apple and Cisco.

A federal appeals court ruled that the US. government cannot force Microsoft or other US based companies to turn over customer emails stored on servers outside the United States.

“[We] conclude that section 2703 of the Stored Communications Act does not authorize courts to issue and enforce against US‐based service providers warrants for the seizure of customer e‐mail content that is stored exclusively on foreign servers.”

But the DOJ appealed that decision, and now the Supreme court seems set to rule in favor of the law enforcement agency; if some of the comments in court are anything to go by.

“It’s not the [US] government’s fault it’s stored overseas”, said Chief Justice John Roberts. “You can get it if you push a button in Washington”, said Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Deputy Solicitor General Michael Dreeben also contended that the idea of international jurisdictional issues were a mere “mirage that Microsoft is seeking to create”.

Defence

For its part, Microsoft also defended itself by claiming that a DOJ victory in this case would lead to an international free-for-all across borders, and that “you’re as likely to break the cloud as to fix it,” said Microsoft lawyer, Joshua Rosenkranz.

At the time of writing, the case was still ongoing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Supreme Court appears unconvinced of Microsoft’s defense for non-disclosure of EU stored data

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) and tech giant Microsoft have been embroiled in a at times bitter legal dispute over access to data (mostly emails) stored in data centres overseas, in this case, the European Union.

As part of a long running criminal investigation centered in New York, the DOJ has been attempting to access emails held on Microsoft servers in Ireland.

However, Microsoft, in conjunction with the EU, have argued, that any personal data held there in Ireland is in fact governed by strict EU rules regarding privacy, and cannot be handed over or divulged without exacting due process.

For its part the EU says that the US DOJ should follow procedures put in place to access the information. The DOJ however claims that following the EU due process is time is unwieldy and excessively time consuming.

The dispute began in 2013, when federal agents served a search warrant on Microsoft’s Redmond, Washington, headquarters, seeking the contents of an MSN.com account they claimed was being used to conduct drug trafficking.

As we reported back in July, 2016,Microsoft had been challenging an earlier court decision that had granted the US Department of Justice a warrant seeking emails stored on a server in one of Microsoft’s European data centers, located in Dublin.

The warrant specifically centered on electronic mail that related to a major narcotics prosecution in the US.  While the origin of the original emails is still unknown, Microsoft had argued that the warrant did not entitle the DOJ access to the Dublin server because US. law does not apply to Ireland.

A number of fellow tech companies had publicly backed Microsoft in its appeal, filing arguments to the appeals court in support of the Redmond, Washington based tech company, including Amazon, Apple and Cisco.

A federal appeals court ruled that the US. government cannot force Microsoft or other US based companies to turn over customer emails stored on servers outside the United States.

[We] conclude that section 2703 of the Stored Communications Act does not authorize courts to issue and enforce against US‐based service providers warrants for the seizure of customer e‐mail content that is stored exclusively on foreign servers.”

But the DOJ appealed that decision, and now the Supreme court seems set to rule in favor of the law enforcement agency; if some of the comments in court are anything to go by.

“It’s not the [US] government’s fault it’s stored overseas,” Chief Justice John Roberts said.

“You can get it if you push a button in Washington,” Justice Anthony Kennedy said.

Deputy Solicitor General Michael Dreeben also contended that the idea of international jurisdictional issues were a mere “mirage that Microsoft is seeking to create.”

For its part, Microsoft also defended itself by claiming that a DOJ victory in this case would lead to an international free-for-all across borders, and that “you’re as likely to break the cloud as to fix it,” said Microsoft lawyer, Joshua Rosenkranz.

At the time of writing, the case was still ongoing.