The U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals scheduled oral argument for September 9, 2015 on Microsoft’s appeal of a district court opinion upholding the validity of the U.S. government’s search warrant for customer data stored on Microsoft’s affiliate’s computers outside the United States. The customer data sought is in Ireland, at a data center operated by a Microsoft subsidiary. The data involves evidence relevant to a pending drug and money laundering case in New York.
The U.S. government’s position is that the Stored Communications Act permits the government to seize private emails and other user generated data stored in data centers outside the United States without having to obtain an order from the courts of the foreign country. Microsoft disagrees. However, Microsoft was unable to persuade a U.S. magistrate judge or a U.S. District Judge in the Southern District of New York of its position. Microsoft has appealed the case to the Second Circuit. The case is being watched closely by the cloud computing community, who are concerned that foreign companies will stop working with U.S. based cloud providers. The concern is that the data of foreign companies and governments on non-U.S. servers will be subject to the U.S. government’s reach if the servers are owned by a U.S. cloud provider.
More than a dozen amicus briefs in favor of Microsoft’s position were filed by a diverse group of companies and organizations, including cloud computing, software and other technology companies, the Chamber of Commerce and the ACLU. The case is also being closely monitored by foreign governments and companies.
See “Microsoft versus the Federal Government; Round Three” for more discussion of the case.
See In the matter of a Warrant to Search a certain E-mail account controlled and maintained by Microsoft Corporation 14-2985.