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.