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posted by LaminatorX on Sunday August 31 2014, @11:55PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the short-arm-of-the-law dept.

Paul Thurrott reports that despite a federal court order directing Microsoft to turn overseas-held email data to federal authorities, the software giant says it will continue to withhold that information as it waits for the case to wind through the appeals process. "Microsoft will not be turning over the email and plans to appeal," a Microsoft statement says. Judge Loretta Preska ruled on July 31 that Microsoft was required to hand over email messages stored in an Ireland data center to US prosecutors investigating a criminal case. "Let there be no doubt that Microsoft's actions in this controversial case are customer-centric," says Thurrott. "The firm isn't just standing up to the US government on moral principles. It's now defying a federal court order."

This is the first time a technology company has resisted a US search warrant seeking data that is held outside the United States. In the view of Microsoft and many legal experts, federal authorities have no jurisdiction over data stored outside the country. It says that the court order violates Ireland's sovereignty and that prosecutors need to seek a legal treaty with Ireland in order to obtain the data they want. Microsoft was stung by revelations last year by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden and has been at pains to prove to customers that it does not allow the U.S. government unchallenged access to personal data on its servers. The case has been closely watched by Microsoft’s competitors, which have filed briefs in support of the tech giant’s efforts to beat back the search warrant, reflecting industry concern that compliance with US requests for data held abroad could alienate foreign governments. They face increasing pressure abroad to shore up customer privacy.

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  • (Score: 3, Informative) by Horse With Stripes on Monday September 01 2014, @12:04AM

    by Horse With Stripes (577) on Monday September 01 2014, @12:04AM (#87969)

    Someone needs to try this tact. Microsoft certainly has the financial resources and a full stable of legal talent.

    The cynic in me still thinks that this could be a partial smokescreen. When MS, or any other company, publicly resists our wiser-than-wise, all-knowing governmental overlords they are secretly passing a thumb drive under the table.

    • (Score: 2) by Nerdfest on Monday September 01 2014, @02:14AM

      by Nerdfest (80) on Monday September 01 2014, @02:14AM (#87984)

      Based on their behaviour in the past, I'd expect exactly that. They need to do this publicly to have absolutely any hope of retaining customers in any country other than the US though.

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by davester666 on Monday September 01 2014, @05:10AM

      by davester666 (155) on Monday September 01 2014, @05:10AM (#88006)

      They aren't technically defying the court, they are appealing the decision, which is completely legal.

      Phone back when they really defy the court [as in, once the entire appeal process fails and they are still required to hand over the emails]. That is when the rubber hit the road.

    • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 01 2014, @10:50AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 01 2014, @10:50AM (#88065)

      They need to be _seen_ to be doing this. It affects Office365, Windows Azure, etc.

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 01 2014, @12:16AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 01 2014, @12:16AM (#87971)

    Microsoft is appealing the court order, that doesn't really count as "defying it" since that's how the process works.

    The reporter seems to be very friendly to microsoft. He frames it as being customer centric when it is much more a case of microsoft's goals serendipitously lining up with the goals of some of their customers. They want to sell services to non-US customers and obviously those customers don't want to be subject to US laws.

    My opinion is that Microsoft wants the benefits of being a multinational corporation but doesn't want to deal with the costs. Borders are about defining different legal jurisdictions, if they want to exist as one corporation in multiple jurisdictions in order to make more money then they have to suck it up and deal with the consequences.

    I'd rather see a bunch of smaller independent companies hosted in their own countries with much less clout than a handful of multinationals with more money than most countries. For example, as an american I'd choose to host my data with a german provider in order to take advantage of their laws. Sure a US court could still subpoena me directly, but at least it would be me making the decision for how to respond rather than microsoft who may or may not decide to be "customer centric" when it came to my data.

    • (Score: 5, Informative) by keplr on Monday September 01 2014, @12:25AM

      by keplr (2104) on Monday September 01 2014, @12:25AM (#87972) Journal

      The reporter seems to be very friendly to microsoft.

      Oh, you don't know the half of it. You must not be familiar with Paul Thurrott. That's the most naive understatement I've ever read on this site.

      He's made his career being a Microsoft apologist. FFS, he praised Windows 8 as a bold and functional new paradigm for the desktop that would surely take over the entire industry and become standard in a few years.

      --
      I don't respond to ACs.
      • (Score: 4, Funny) by aristarchus on Monday September 01 2014, @03:53AM

        by aristarchus (2645) on Monday September 01 2014, @03:53AM (#87993) Journal

        he most naive understatement I've ever read on this site.

        Those are strong words, and extreme claims require extra-juicy evidence . . .

        he praised Windows 8 as a bold and functional new paradigm for the desktop

        Oh, my bad. Alright, People!! Nothing to see here! Move along, Move along!!

        --
        Runaway: Mentally Unfit!
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by kaszz on Monday September 01 2014, @04:38AM

    by kaszz (4211) on Monday September 01 2014, @04:38AM (#88001) Journal

    Why would a US based company that were happily in bed with the men in black just a few years ago. Decide to change their ways just now? Corporations are slaves to money. So it's about retaining customers etc.. Don't buy into this public relations theatric show.

    Want real security and reliability. Then choose companies with owners that have the right beliefs and the right jurisdiction all the way.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 01 2014, @04:58AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 01 2014, @04:58AM (#88004)

      I'm afraid most businesses prefer to do business with other good businessmen rather than idealists. Companies like to plan long term, and idealists tend to go broke much faster.

      (Not that I'd disagree with your basic idea; I couldn't agree more.)
      q.kontinuum (532)

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by keplr on Monday September 01 2014, @05:10AM

      by keplr (2104) on Monday September 01 2014, @05:10AM (#88005) Journal

      It's probably all an act. NSA gets everything, one way or another. They're likely instructing US companies to make very public moves like this so that it appears that they still have some semblance of independence. MS might as well be a branch of the NSA. They probably have offices in each other campuses for constant cooperation.

      --
      I don't respond to ACs.
    • (Score: 2) by Magic Oddball on Monday September 01 2014, @07:36AM

      by Magic Oddball (3847) on Monday September 01 2014, @07:36AM (#88024) Journal

      Part would have to be wanting to hold onto (or win over) customers... I can see two possibilities for the other half:

      1) Switching from Ballmer's preferred methods of handling the government over to Nadella's.

      2) MS leaders may feel that it has been too helpful for too long, so that its obedience is taken for granted by the government, rather than something that is 'encouraged' with fat contracts or extra lenience or something else. It could be that they want the government officials to start (or go back to) making decisions that impact MS in a way that pleases the company, for fear it decides to be as unhelpful as it can get away with in the future.

    • (Score: 1) by Murdoc on Tuesday September 02 2014, @08:15PM

      by Murdoc (2518) on Tuesday September 02 2014, @08:15PM (#88624) Homepage
      You're right they are slaves to money, that is why they are customer-centric. The thing that's being missed in this whole discussion is when we think that "customers" refers to us, which it doesn't. Microsoft's biggest "customers" are... other corporations! Is this starting to make sense now? The only reason they go against the government is if their corporate clients wanted them to, and since they want their privacy as much as anyone (if not more), yeah, this all makes perfect sense.
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 01 2014, @09:09AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 01 2014, @09:09AM (#88044)

    In a nutshell....

    The Feds can outspend Microsoft being the US Government, forcing them to legally comply or go bankrupt.

    Microsoft sees itself as 'too big to fail'. If it does, it will drag down the fragile US/global economy BIG TIME--sure to disrupt the lives of MILLIONS/(BILLIONS?)! Both parties know this which is why all legal channels are being explored/used.

    I'm not sure what the outcome will be....

    Others posted saying it's a PR stunt or some type of 'op' -- whatever it is, things could get interesting...FAST!

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 01 2014, @09:47AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 01 2014, @09:47AM (#88052)

      Actually if the US government forces Microsoft's hand, the company will of course act in the best interests of its major shareholders, and that may well mean closing down its US headquarters and moving offshore entirely... taking jobs with it. That's the advantage of being multinational.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 01 2014, @09:50AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 01 2014, @09:50AM (#88054)

        ...it need only move up the road to Vancouver. Then existing employees just need Canadian visas (and subject themselves to regular gropings by border 'protection' officers).