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Microsoft Appeals U.S. Order To Turn Over E-Mail in Foreign Datacenter

As I reported the other day, Microsoft is getting tougher on surveillance reforms. Later that day, Microsoft stepped its battle of overreach up a notch by releasing a court filing seeking to overturn an order to turn over an e-mail stored in its Dublin datacenter. In its appeal released Monday, Microsoft is arguing the search warrant is in violation of international law.

It's believed Microsoft's move is the first time a major company has challenged a domestic search warrant for digital information overseas, The New York Times reported today. Privacy groups and other IT providers are concerned over the outcome of this case, according to the report, noting it has international repercussions. Foreign governments are already concerned their people's data are not adequately protected.

Microsoft filed its objection in the United States Southern New York Court last Friday, saying if the warrant to turn over the e-mail stored abroad is upheld, it "would violate international law and treaties, and reduce the privacy protection of everyone on the planet." The case involves a criminal inquiry, where a federal judge granted a search warrant in New York back in December. The customer's identity and country of origin is not known.

Search warrants seeking data oversees are rare, according to The Times report, but granting one could pave the way for further cases and international conflicts at a time when foreign governments are already unnerved by the surveillance activities by the United States. In its latest filing, Microsoft is seeking a reversal of the warrant. The report said the case could go on for some time with oral arguments scheduled for July 31.

The case could put pressure for revisions to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986, which was created before international electronic communications over the Internet was common.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 06/11/2014 at 11:54 AM


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