The Stack Archive

Microsoft launches further appeal against court ruling which threatens cloud users’ privacy

Mon 4 Aug 2014

Microsoft is expected to file a further appeal against a Department of Justice ruling which plans to issue search warrants for US authorities to access personal emails stored abroad.

Microsoft’s top lawyer Brad Smith spoke out against the warrant, after a federal court ruled that the company must hand over a user’s emails stored in an Irish data centre as part of an ongoing narcotics investigation.

He argued that the US government should not be permitted to seize personal information held in servers based in other countries, applying US legislation beyond its jurisdiction.

Smith called the ruling, which was upheld last Thursday, an overreach into citizens’ digital privacy, explaining in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece: “Microsoft believes you own emails stored in the cloud, and that they have the same privacy protection as paper letters sent by mail.”

Microsoft has filed another appeal against the ruling, maintaining that it threatens the privacy of cloud email users. Smith said in a statement that “the only issue that was certain […] was that the district court’s decision would not represent the final step in this process.”

“We will appeal promptly and continue to advocate that people’s email deserves strong privacy protection in the US and around the world,” the Microsoft lawyer added.

The appeal process is expected to prolong a case which has already developed into an ongoing legal battle over protecting personal information stored abroad.

Microsoft, which is supported by other top tech firms such as Apple, Verizon and Cisco, faces strong opposition from the US courts. In a brief to the Manhattan court US Attorney Preet Bharara wrote that “overseas records must be disclosed domestically when a valid subpoena, order, or warrant compels their production.”

Bharara continued, warning the court that if Microsoft’s interpretation of the law was upheld, ISPs would be able move content around the world in an effort to avoid law enforcement requests.


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