Looks like in the battle of the US government vs Microsoft on the issue of handing over the details of the latter’s customer email addresses to the former, the US government seems to be taking the lead here because a New York Court has officially ruled for the side of the US government.
In an oral ruling, District Court Judge Loretta Preska rejected Microsoft’s argument that a U.S search warrant does not extend beyond the country’s borders
“The production of that information is not an intrusion on the foreign sovereign,” Judge Preska as saying. “It is incidental at best,” Preska noted, adding that the magistrate court order was not an extra territorial application of U.S. law
In a statement, the Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith said Thursday’s ruling would not be the final say in the matter. “The only issue that was certain this morning was that the District Court’s decision would not represent the final step in this process,” he said. “We will appeal promptly and continue to advocate that people’s email deserves strong privacy protection in the U.S. and around the world.”
Smith said the case has broad ramifications for U.S consumers as well as businesses. “If the U.S. government prevails in reaching into other countries’ data centers, other governments are sure to follow.”
Hanni Fakhoury, staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which filed an amicus brief in support of Microsoft, said the decision was not unexpected.
“We suspected it would be hard to convince the district court to overrule the magistrate and that the Second Circuit [Court of Appeals] would ultimately have to decide the issue,” Fakhoury said.
“I hope the Second Circuit looks closely at the magistrate’s reasoning and realizes that its decision radically rewrote the Stored Communications Act when it interpreted “warrant” to not capture all of the limitations inherent in a warrant, including extraterritoriality,” he said.
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