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Microsoft hits back at US government request for customer data held in Ireland

Hey you, get off my cloud
Wed Jun 11 2014, 16:42
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MICROSOFT IS RESISTING a US government warrant asking it to hand over customer data from its servers in Ireland.

The decision came in April and saw New York federal magistrate judge James Francis apply the same rule to all firms that store cloud data in Ireland, ruling against an earlier motion by Microsoft.

Microsoft deputy general counsel David Howard was not pleased about this, and said at the time, "The US government doesn't have the power to search a home in another country, nor should it have the power to search the content of email stored overseas."

Judge Francis disagreed, however, saying that the government should not have to issue a new warrant every time it wants data.

"The burden on the government would be substantial, and law enforcement efforts would be seriously impeded if warrants for data did not cover this information," he said. "Even when applied to information that is stored in servers abroad, an SCA [Stored Communications Act] warrant does not violate the presumption against extraterritorial application of American law," he added.

Now, six weeks later, Microsoft is still opposing the warrant, which the it confirmed in a statement sent to The INQUIRER on Wednesday.

A Microsoft spokesperson said, "We’re continuing to challenge this search warrant in the courts as promised on behalf of our customers who expect and deserve basic privacy rights. The US government can’t execute a search warrant in other countries, and we don’t believe it has the authority to ask Microsoft to do what it can’t.”

Microsoft's full legal challenge is available online, and there, Microsoft argues that the ruling is counter to existing rules and is overreaching.

"The government takes the extraordinary position that by merely serving such a warrant on any US-based email provider, it has the right to obtain the private emails of any subscriber, no matter where in the world the data may be located and without the knowledge of the subscriber or the relevant foreign government where the data is stored," it said.

"This interpretation not only rewrites the statute, it would also authorise the government to violate the territorial integrity of sovereign nations." µ


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