Federal appeals court set to hear Microsoft 'cloud' case

Microsoft Corp. gets a second chance to prove it's entitled to keep data stored overseas out of the hands of U.S. investigators when its lawyers appear before a federal appeals court Wednesday, but the computer software giant is already hedging its bets, calling on Congress to clarify the law.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear Microsoft's challenge to a July 2014 lower court ruling concluding that a court or law enforcement agency in the United States is empowered to order a person or entity to produce materials, even if the information is housed outside the country.

The Redmond, Washington-based company hopes the appeals court will overturn the decision upholding the U.S. government's right to search a consumer email account that Microsoft stores in Dublin, Ireland. The government wants to search the account as part of a narcotics investigation.

A warrant for the information was issued in December 2013, saying there was probable cause to believe the account in a facility opened in 2010 was being used to further narcotics trafficking. Microsoft turned over the customer's address book, which was stored in the United States.

In court papers, Microsoft calls on Congress to "grapple with the question whether, and when, law enforcement should be able to compel providers like Microsoft to help it seize customer emails stored in foreign countries."

"Only Congress has the institutional competence and constitutional authority to balance law enforcement needs against our nation's sovereignty, the privacy of its citizens and the competitiveness of its industry," it said.

But Manhattan federal prosecutors said in court filings that "powerful government interests" override potential negative effects on Microsoft's business or any other company seeking to profit on the storage of information overseas.

"The fact remains that there exists probable cause to believe that evidence of a violation of U.S. criminal law, affecting U.S. residents and implicating U.S. interests, is present in records under Microsoft's control," they wrote. "With the benefits of corporate citizenship in the United States come corresponding responsibilities, including the responsibility to comply with a disclosure order issued by a U.S. court. Microsoft should not be heard to complain that doing so might harm its bottom line."

Prosecutors noted Microsoft still controls the foreign-based data and U.S.-based employees can retrieve it. They said Microsoft customers also have no right under the company's terms of service to demand that data be stored at any particular data center.

In a filing in the appeal, the government of Ireland noted that the Irish Supreme Court has ruled that Irish courts have the power to order production of documents by an Irish registered company by one of its branches situated in a foreign country. It said Irish taxation authorities also can force Irish banks to produce records of accounts held by customers wherever the information is located.

"Ireland continues to facilitate cooperation with other states, including the United States, in the fight against crime and would be pleased to consider, as expeditiously as possible, a request under the treaty, should one be made," it said.

In another appeals submission, 29 major U.S. and foreign news and trade organizations asked the court to reverse the lower court, saying journalists and publishers worldwide rely on email and cloud-storage services provided by Microsoft and others to gather, store and review documents protected by the First Amendment.

"Even if the subscriber today is not a reporter—although we do not know for sure—the next subscriber may be," the court papers said.


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Citation: Federal appeals court set to hear Microsoft 'cloud' case (2015, September 6) retrieved 25 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2015-09-federal-appeals-court-microsoft-cloud.html
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Sep 06, 2015
It matters not what the law says. They will spy on us whenever they want to do so. We hired the nastiest liars and sneaks we could find to serve us, but they turned their powers against us, making them too powerful.

Under The Dubya, every communication of any kind was monitored illegally. Do you really think they have stopped??

Sep 06, 2015
MS should cancel their corporate charter and abandon imploding police-state USA for some destination which supports innovation, such as Eurasia or Russia

Sep 06, 2015
Verkle, so what is your username password?

Sep 07, 2015
@s-l-y

Verkle has yet to make an intelligent comment so he his stupid enough to give out his username password.

Sep 07, 2015
This comment has been removed by a moderator.

Sep 07, 2015
Pathetic how westerners think their fiat funny kleptocracy can keep operating like a perpetual motion machine. Once TPTB do another 9/11 at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and all those precious metals contracts are instantly EVAPORATED like ENRON and Globalcenter scams, Verkle, Estevan57, Vietvet will need to start flipping burgers again saving up for their next financial rape. They're proud to serve the Babylonian bloodline banksters and somehow conflate that as patriotism

Sep 07, 2015
"Pathetic how westerners think , . . "
--------------------------------------

Really? And you are what, . . an Ancient Alien?

Sep 07, 2015
"Pathetic how westerners think , . . "
--------------------------------------

Really? And you are what, . . an Ancient Alien?
That GMO frankenfood finally rotted you brain

Sep 07, 2015
me brain?

Sep 07, 2015
So comrade kochevnik, what financial rape have I committed? And why would you think all americans would eat GMO frankenfoods? America is known for large varieties of worldwide foods in its supermarkets.

Russia doesn't have much choice in its foods, considering the boycott for shooting down airliners and such.
Hows that Russian peso doing these days? Oil sales not much good?

If only you knew how to make something besides hackers and despots...

me brain?
- gkam
No, you not brain.

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