Federal Court Rules Against Microsoft In The Case Over Accessing Customer Email Stored Outside The US

Microsoft and the tech industry in general had a bad day in the US court as a federal judge ruled Thursday that Microsoft must hand over e-mails stored on an overseas server to US authorities. Following a two-hour court hearing in New York, U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska said the warrant lawfully required the company to hand over any data it controlled, regardless of where it was stored.

“It is a question of control, not a question of the location of that information,” Preska said.

However, the good news is that Microsoft can appeal to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Companies like Cisco, Microsoft, Verizon and others came in support of Microsoft in this case. If the current judgment takes effect, there is a possibility that these companies will lose billions of revenue from countries like China, Russia and others.

Microsoft Executive Vice President and General Counsel Brad Smith provided the following response to a federal court ruling in New York on Thursday in the company’s ongoing case challenging a U.S. government warrant for customer data stored in Dublin, Ireland:

“The only issue that was certain this morning 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 U.S. and around the world.”

via: Reuters

About the author  ⁄ pradeep

Pradeep, a Computer Science & Engineering graduate.

  • jaylyric

    2 questions:
    1) Why do they want these companies emails?
    2) How would the companies potentially lose billions from overseas by giving them up?
    Just want to know what all this is about.

    • john

      they would lose money because other countries would not be willing to host anything on a US based companys servers if through a US court order you can get access to emails that are based on servers in other countries. The argument is that info on servers outside the US are outside the purvey of US based courts and can’t be access. This court says that is not true and the fact that the company is US based means the court can have access to info based anywhere in the world

    • Ed

      In effect, it means that the US is saying they have access to any data stored in any country if it’s on servers owned by a US based company. This means Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Twitter can be ordered to hand over information regardless of where the servers are or which country the users are from. An example is that if a Foreign Government uses Office365 or Google Apps, the US government feels they have the right to access that information (if a warrant is issued) even if the servers are not based in the US.
      This means that any major US firm will loose international business, from Governments, Private enterprise and just the average Joe.
      It’s very bad news.

  • tofferne

    I´m living in Europe and absolutely not enemy of US, but people are a little bit tired of US and all this playing police and big brother all over the world. They make themselves very unpopular, and after few years all US will suffer from this. Around the world they find an alternative to US and US products.
    I think it’s okay to have access to all information, we have a lot of terrorists and crazy criminals in this world – but it need to be in serious relation together with the court in US and the server country, not an open access. The way US manage it now isn’t okay.

    • Dead_Ken

      This morning I got the news that CSI even lied and spied to/on the US Senate. Why would foreign companies/states feel safe and believe that this spying will only regard “Terrorists”?

      I guess this will slowly kill MS/Google/Amazon/Apple etc as _no one_ in the end will trust them (maybe not even the reality absent UK) and instead find
      alternatives. A “Euro-internet” here (as proposed by the Germans), an “Asian
      Linux” there (as driven by the Chinese), “local clouds” (as driven by many
      countries/companies) etc etc will hurt American companies. US is still strong in
      military terms but in economically, politically and intellectual it is declining,
      fast. US must start to make friends and not tell the world to f..k off.

      • pkl728

        You are very naive if you believe the US is the only one engaged in spying

        • Dead_Ken

          That mightbe the case.
          But, IF I run a European company and have to choose between a US, China or Germany -based cloud. The choice is pretty simple.

          • pkl728

            I think the only wrong choice there is a Chinese-based cloud. At least with the US there needs to be a real allegation and warrant, so they aren’t allowed to just go get data whenever they want. Also this case is far from over

          • Dead_Ken

            Why do the US spy on Angela Merkel and Brasilian oil auktions?

          • pkl728

            Why does Germany spy on things they want to know about? All countries spy (or at least attempt to) and that comment has nothing to do with the previous comment I made.

          • Dead_Ken

            So, if so. Is it then wise to hand över Company data to a country like the US?

          • TheOne2125

            Okay lets be honest here Germany says they are the Americas partner but they basically sucked the lower parts of Russians body since Gerhard. Ignoring many things just so that their businesses will get paid. So after spending 5 trillion rebuilding a country and see it get in bed with your enemy don’t expect hugs and kisses. Basically if your wife is hanging around her ex to much who she said was so abusive. You tell her stay away but just to be sure you are going to keep a eye on her. I know some fools will say oh hell no I will not do that but sorry I work with such issues 99% will be checking everything.

    • whatup12

      i am a Canadian and also not a US-hater by any means–but my question is just how these rules differ from that of other countries. for example, Australia has a gag order against documents published by WikiLeaks, etc. While far fewer tech companies are based in other countries, we just don’t know what their laws are like–including my own Canada.

  • xma1e

    the bigger impact of this is that all Windows Phone users have MS accounts so all info on my phone can be accessed by the US government at a whim.
    Hmmm, now that has got me thinking!

    • Orc

      And so can your Android and iOS device aswell. By the way, why would the US be interested in your app purchases?

      • xma1e

        Exactly this impacts all smartphones.

        The MS (and Gmail on other platforms) account is linked to GPS data to track your phone, your email, anything you link your account too,. not simply your “app purchases”.

        Wanting to hide your privacy shouldn’t be a crime.

  • ZappyKins

    So the solution will be to take the companies out of the USA. That’s seems like it will be ‘great’ for the county. (sigh)