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The Stack Archive

Microsoft gets industry support against U.S. Irish search warrant

Tue 16 Dec 2014

Tech giants such as Apple and eBay have given their support in Microsoft’s legal battle against the U.S. government regarding the handing over of data stored in an Irish data centre.

In connection with a 2014 drugs investigation, U.S. prosecutors issued a warrant for emails stored by Microsoft in Ireland. The firm refused to hand over the information, but in July was ordered by a judge to comply with the investigation.

Microsoft has today filed a collection of letters from industry supporters, such as Apple, eBay, Cisco, Amazon, HP, and Verizon. Trade associations including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Digital Rights Ireland have also expressed their support.

The Guardian, CNN, and the Washington Post join other news organisations supporting Microsoft’s decision. Various computer scientists from top technology schools, such as Harvard and MIT, have also stated their alliance.

Those parties opposing the warrant argue that the Irish data centre, based in Dublin, lies outside of U.S. jurisdiction and therefore does not respect domestic laws. However, U.S. prosecutors are claiming that as Microsoft is able to retrieve the information from inside the U.S., their argument is flawed.

“Everybody wants to have their rights protected by their own law,” said Brad Smith, general counsel and executive vice president of legal and corporate affairs at Microsoft, at a Microsoft-sponsored event in New York on Monday.

“Try telling an American that their rights are no longer going to be protected by the Constitution, they’re no longer going to be protected by U.S. law; they’re going to be protected by Irish law or Chinese law or Brazilian law,” he remarked.

“We believe that when one government wants to obtain email that is stored in another country, it needs to do so in a manner that respects existing domestic and international laws,” Smith wrote in a blog post.

“In contrast, the U.S. government’s unilateral use of a search warrant to reach email in another country puts both fundamental privacy rights and cordial international relations at risk,” he continued.

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