US Supreme Court agrees to hear Microsoft's Irish email access case

US Supreme Court agrees to hear Microsoft's Irish email access case

US Supreme Court agrees to hear Microsoft's Irish email access case

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday agreed to decide whether federal prosecutors can obtain emails for a Microsoft customer stored on an overseas server.

The case involved information stored on a Microsoft server in Ireland that the U.S. government believed it should have access to under warrants issued in the US.

Microsoft has 100 data centers in 40 countries, and its DOJ fight will set a precedent for other tech giants with significant global operations. There have been several similar challenges, most brought by Google. "If US law enforcement can obtain the emails of foreigners stored outside the United States, what's to stop the government of another country from getting your emails even though they are located in the United States?"

"The continued reliance on a law passed in 1986 will neither keep people safe nor protect people's rights", said Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith in a blog post.

While oral argument has not yet been scheduled, the Supreme Court will hear the case sometime in the next year. "And the growing privacy concerns of customers around the world mean that granting USA law-enforcement agencies that broad authority would hamstring US companies' ability to compete in the multibillion-dollar cloud computing industry".

The appeals court ruled that Microsoft could not be forced to turn over emails sought in the narcotics case that were stored in Dublin. In a new step, today, it was announced that the US Supreme Court will hear the Microsoft's Irish email access case as part of a review of Microsoft's recent victory. Microsoft successfully challenged the warrant, arguing that DOJ needed to pursue worldwide data through a treaty process.

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Rulings in both cases are due by the end of June.

The government asked the full Second Circuit to rehear the case, but the court deadlocked 4-4. The law authorizes search warrants when there is probable cause that the emails are evidence of a federal crime.

In 2015, Judge Nicholas Garaufis, of the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, ruled that contracts forbidding merchants from steering customers toward other forms of payment were an unlawful restraint of trade.

A coalition of 33 USA states and Puerto Rico backed the Justice Department's appeal.

A federal magistrate judge in NY in 2013 granted the government's request to issue a warrant for the data under a 1986 federal law, the Stored Communications Act. "Without these important clarifications, technology companies, law enforcement and the courts will continue to interpret and apply a law to technologies and circumstances far beyond what Congressional leaders envisioned in 1986".

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