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US orders Microsoft to hand over customer data held in Ireland

But the firm, along with Apple, will appeal the ruling
Fri Aug 01 2014, 11:32
TechEd 2014 Microsoft logo

A UNITED STATES COURT has ordered Microsoft to turn over customer data held at its data centre in Ireland, news which has seen Apple, AT&T and others offer support for the Redmond firm's stance.

In June, Microsoft objected when a US government warrant asked it to hand over customer email addresses from its servers in Ireland, slamming the warrant as stepping on consumers' rights to privacy.

Microsoft appealed against the ruling, arguing that federal prosecutors cannot seize customer information held in foreign countries, but after a hearing this week the court didn't rule in the company's favour.

Following a two-hour court hearing this week, US District Court Judge Loretta Preska ruled in favour of the government. "It is a question of control, not a question of the location of that information," she was reported as saying.

In a statement sent to The INQUIRER, Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith pledged that the firm will appeal again, and said it is the first case in which a corporation has challenged a US search warrant seeking data held abroad, The Guardian reported.

"The only issue that was certain this morning was that the District Court's decision would not represent the final step in this process," Smith said. "We will appeal promptly and continue to advocate that people’s email deserves strong privacy protection in the US and around the world."

Apple, AT&T, Cisco and Verizon, along with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) all have Microsoft's back too, having submitted court documents in favour of the company. For the companies, this is due to their own concerns that customers will be reluctant to use their services if their data is subject to seizure by US investigators anywhere in the world. µ


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