Microsoft has lost its battle to prevent the U.S. government from accessing emails that were stored on a server in Ireland, setting a new precedent against user privacy.
In 2013 the U.S. applied for a search warrant for the emails of an unnamed user in a case related to a drug investigation. The emails, though, were stored on a server in Ireland. Microsoft maintained that the U.S. government had no jurisdiction in Ireland and refused to hand over the data.
Microsoft took the matter to court, gaining the support of Verizon, AT&T, Apple, and Cisco Systems.
Microsoft insisted that if a government could take data from anywhere in the world, then no one’s data was safe from snooping. The software giant also said that the magistrate was violating the fourth amendment that protects against unreasonable search and seizures.
Government prosecutors maintained that Microsoft’s position “serves as a dangerous impediment to the ability of law enforcement to gather evidence of criminal activity.”
In April, a U.S. magistrate ruled against Microsoft, but the tech giant appealed. On July 31, that appeal was defeated. In Manhattan, U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska upheld the April decision, saying that who controlled the data was the key issue, and it didn’t matter where it was stored.
In a statement, Microsoft said, “Over the course of the past year, Microsoft and other U.S. technology companies have faced growing mistrust and concern about their ability to protect the privacy of personal information located outside the United States. The Government’s position in this case further erodes that trust, and will ultimately erode the leadership of U.S. technology companies in the global market.”
Microsoft has vowed to continue the fight to protect user data.
User privacy is still a very unsettled legal issue and is one that has set nations one against the other–especially against the U.S. government, with its infamous penchant for snooping on the lives of private citizens.
Already, the German government canceled a contract with Verizon, citing the fact that the carrier is cooperating with U.S. government spying.
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