Microsoft builds support over Ireland email case

December 15, 2014
Microsoft General Counsel and Executive Vice President Brad Smith addresses shareholders during a Microsoft shareholders meeting on December 3, 2014, in Bellevue, Washington

Microsoft said Monday it had secured broad support from a coalition of influential technology and media firms as it seeks to challenge a US ruling ordering it to hand over emails stored on a server in Ireland.

The US technology giant, which says it has the backing of global heavyweights including Apple and Amazon, has for several months defied a court-ordered search warrant aimed at giving US agents investigating drug-trafficking access to a customer's emails.

As part of an appeal against the ruling, which tests the limits of US authorities' right to access data stored outside the United States, Microsoft has been building support from other companies who have backed its case.

The company released 10 letters submitted to the court signed by 28 leading technology and , as well as 35 prominent computer scientists and nearly two dozen trade associations and .

Among those voicing support were computer titans such as Apple, HP and CISCO, as well as online giants including Amazon and eBay, along with such as AT&T and Verizon. Media companies included The Washington Post, Forbes, The Guardian, CNN and Fox News.

"Seldom has a case below the Supreme Court attracted the breadth and depth of legal involvement we're seeing today," Brad Smith, Microsoft's general counsel, wrote in a blog post.

"This case involves not a narrow legal question, but a broad policy issue that is fundamental to the future of global technology," he added.

"The US 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."

The case comes amid rising concern about US surveillance following revelations of snooping disclosed by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

Nuala O'Connor, president of the Center for Democracy and Technology, said that "if the US government wins this case, it would severely undermine trust in the global cloud.

"It would certainly lead to other countries demanding, through their own domestic legal regimes, access to communications content stored in the US on behalf of Americans and others."

BSA president Victoria Espinel added that "the government's position would have a chilling effect on the international market for cloud-based services."

Explore further: Microsoft says private data 'at risk' in court case

Related Stories

Microsoft challenging US on overseas data

July 31, 2014

In a case closely watched by the tech sector, Microsoft will challenge Thursday a US court order requiring it to give prosecutors electronic mail content associated with an overseas server.

Tech giants seek to halt overseas snooping by US

June 16, 2014

Microsoft Corp. and four other large American technology companies are using a Manhattan court case to draw a line in the cloud, saying the U.S. government has no right to seize computer data stored outside the country.

Microsoft says it snooped on Hotmail to track leak

March 21, 2014

Microsoft Corp., which has skewered rival Google Inc. for going through customer emails to deliver ads, acknowledged Thursday it had searched emails in a blogger's Hotmail account to track down who was leaking company secrets.

Recommended for you

When more women make decisions, the environment wins

March 21, 2019

When more women are involved in group decisions about land management, the group conserves more—particularly when offered financial incentives to do so, according to a new University of Colorado Boulder study published ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.