Microsoft swings and misses in its attempt to push back against a U.S. warrant demanding access to emails stored on its servers. A federal judge in New York ruled against the tech giant.
The case surrounds emails stored on servers in Dublin, Ireland and pertain to a drug-trafficking trial.
The case is being eyed closely by major tech companies and privacy advocacy groups. U.S. companies point of contention surrounds prosecutors right to seize customer information held in foreign countries. It’s not like U.S. officials can serve warrants to search houses or cars in Ireland. So, how can they be forced to hand over information that’s outside federal prosecutors’ jurisdiction?
U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska, who issued the ruling, said, “It’s a question of control, not a question of the location of that information.”
Microsoft does plan to challenge the ruling. Preska will temporarily suspend her order in order to allow Microsoft to take their case to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Microsoft’s staunch resistance appears to be first of a company challenging a U.S. search warrant for data stored abroad. Why the resistance? Money, of course. Major tech companies are worried that customers will go elsewhere if they think their data can be seized whenever U.S. officials feel like it. Snowden showed that’s already the case. But, perception is often reality. People will find a new company to store their data if they have any worries that their current company isn’t doing enough.
Because of these concerns, Microsoft has the support of other major U.S. based tech companies including AT&T, Cisco, Apple and Verizon. The privacy group Electronic Frontier Foundation is also supporting Microsoft’s fight against the warrant.
Microsoft’s general counsel Brad Smith had this to say about the ruling. “The only issue that was certain this morning was that the district court’s decision would not represent the final step in this process.”
Microsoft really is digging their heels on the warrant issue. After all the Snowden leaks, it’s nice to finally see someone pushing back against U.S. officials.