Microsoft took the stand yesterday in a Supreme Court case that will determine whether US law enforcement has the right to seize data stored in servers located outside the country.
5 years ago, investigators asked the company to turn over emails stored on their servers as part of a drug trafficking case. Microsoft agreed to give up data stored on American servers but refused to relinquish the emails that were stored at a Microsoft data center in Ireland.
Now, the Justice Department’s taking Microsoft to the bench. It’s a landmark case in the way the internet is policed, and the verdict will answer the question: Does the cloud have borders?
Let’s take that data… and move it over here
Microsoft maintains that US law enforcement should go through Irish authorities to gain access to the emails, but the Justice Department says a US warrant is plenty, not because it entitles them to overseas data, but because Microsoft could easily access it from inside US borders.
AKA, copying the emails to a US server and then turning them over to the US government is totally kosher.
Opponents say that’s “erroneous” on all accounts, and that Microsoft acting “as a government agent” by copying the data still counts as “search and seizure” according to the Fourth Amendment.
“Snitches get stitches” — Microsoft
Microsoft says it is just trying to protect people’s privacy, arguing that the 1986 law on which the US is basing their case was written long before “the cloud” came to be, and that data has a “physical location” just like a paper document.
Not to mention, a ruling against Microsoft could set a precedent for other countries to request info from data centers housed in the US.
Reports say the Supreme Court seemed skeptical of Microsoft’s arguments yesterday, but time will tell if Microsoft has to cough up the goods or, in the words of Guy Fieri, if their data is “out of bounds.”
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