A US judge has demanded that software giant Microsoft hand over emails which are stored on a foreign server to the government. Microsoft however has refused to do so until its appeal is heard in another court.
Apparently, the emails are sitting on a server in Ireland. If the ruling stands then it means that Microsoft could fall foul of EU law, where the emails are stored and if Redmond does allow the data to fall into US government hands, it can kiss good-bye to billions of EU cloud business.
Practically it means that if you have your data stored in a cloud owned by a US company you are effectively giving that data to US spooks. In fact, the US government could then sell on that data to US business rivals.
Chief Judge Loretta Preska of the US District Court in Manhattan had on July 31 upheld a magistrate judge’s ruling on the emails. It is not clear why the government wants to read the emails just that it applied for a warrant.
Microsoft has been desperate to prove to customers that it does not allow the US government unchallenged access to personal data on its servers.
Preska had delayed enforcement of the government’s search warrant so Microsoft could appeal.
But prosecutors later said that because her order was not a “final, appealable order” and because Microsoft had yet to be held in contempt, there was no legal reason to enforce the stay.
Preska agreed, saying her order “merely confirmed the government’s temporary forbearing of its right to stay enforcement of the order it secured.”
Microsoft is still refusing to comply with the judge’s order, pending attempts to overturn it. A spokesVole said that everyone agreed this case can and will proceed to the appeals court. This is simply about finding the appropriate procedure for that to happen,
This appears to be the first case in which a corporation has challenged a US search warrant seeking data held abroad. It is backed by AT&T, Apple, Cisco Systems and Verizon.