United States v. Microsoft Corp

I found this case interesting:

The facts of the case are pretty simple: The cops have a warrant for an e-mail account for someone they suspect is involved in selling drugs. They go to Microsoft to get the information. Microsoft says they’ll give law enforcement the information they have stored in Washington [State], but the e-mails for that account are stored in Ireland and the warrant doesn’t apply to their Irish data center. The Supreme Court will decide whether the facts of this case are foreign or domestic and, based on that, whether the law can be applied to information stored in another country.

The SCOTUSBlog summary:

Issue: Whether a United States provider of email services must comply with a probable-cause-based warrant issued under 18 U.S.C. § 2703 by making disclosure in the United States of electronic communications within that provider’s control, even if the provider has decided to store that material abroad.

Working for state government, in contracting a company to host our services, we have to demand that our data remain in the United States. One of the DOJ claims is that someone in Microsoft headquarters can, with the click of a button, moved the data from Ireland to the US and remove this issue. Which is why I find our lawyer demanding our data not ever go overseas hilarious. With a click of a button, it or a copy could go there and we would never know or be able to prove that it did.

Ireland filed an amicus brief that Microsoft handing over the data would not violate Irish privacy law. So, moving the goal posts, the MS argument is now that other countries will demand access to data of US citizens stored in the US. Of course, they would also like to be protected from the US government.

Of course, there is the Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data (CLOUD) Act that is the legislative “fix”.

It would specify that an order under the SCA applies to all data that is in the “possession, custody, or control” of the provider, regardless of where that data is stored, and it would pave the way for executive agreements—such as the contemplated U.S.-U.K. agreement—to allow foreign governments to request content directly from American providers.

 

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