The US Supreme Court has agreed to hear a dispute over whether Microsoft should release personal emails stored in Ireland to the federal government. However, in a landmark appeals court ruling previous year, justices overturned the lower court's decision and sided with Redmond - concluding that the DoJ would need a warrant from Ireland.
The DoJ has argued that it should have a right to access data stored overseas in order to protect against national security threats, while Microsoft viewed this approach as reaching too far and with ramifications for reciprocal rulings with other countries.
In December 2013, the USA government issued a warrant in connection with an ongoing criminal narcotics investigation to seize data contained in an email account of a Microsoft customer.
Microsoft turned over information it had stored domestically but contended US law enforcement couldn't seize evidence held in another country.
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The current state of the law doesn't mean that USA law enforcement has no access to data stored on foreign servers. Companies like Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo have stopped complying with search warrants seeking data they choose to store outside the country, according to a CNN review of sealed cases. The Microsoft customer in question had told the company he was based in Ireland when he signed up for his account.
We disagree with the premise of the government's argument in favor of the warrant that customer email is the property of the email provider, not the customer, which would cause people to lose their rights when they go online.
In the appeals court, Microsoft was supported by dozens of technology and media companies including Amazon, Apple, CNN and Verizon Communications, as well as the American Civil Liberties Union and the US Chamber of Commerce business group. Microsoft Corp., began in 2013 when a NY judge issued a search warrant seeking records and emails from a Microsoft account in a case connected with a criminal investigation.
A judge upheld the warrant, but a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit overturned the ruling.