Apple & others back Google in opposing FBI warrant for overseas emails

Posted:
in General Discussion
Apple has reportedly joined Amazon, Cisco, and Microsoft in signing an amicus brief in support of Google, which a Pennsylvania court recently ordered to hand over emails from foreign servers in compliance with an FBI warrant.




"When a warrant seeks email content from a foreign data center, that invasion of privacy occurs outside the United States -- in the place where the customers' private communications are stored, and where they are accessed, and copied for the benefit of law enforcement, without the customer's consent," the brief said according to Business Insider.

The amicus parties also argued that other countries view such warrants as an "extraterritorial act on the part of the U.S. government," and that complying with the FBI would invite those nations to demand email from American citizens.

It's up to the U.S. Congress to decide whether the Stored Communications Act can be applied to overseas data, not the court, the brief continued. As added defense it referred to a Microsoft court victory in January, in which the company successfully refused to hand over emails stored on Irish servers. A government appeal to have the case reheard was denied.

Apple likely has a vested interest in the Google case, given the potential for countries like China or the U.K. to request data from its American data centers. It's also working on its first European centers in Ireland and Denmark, though the Irish facility has yet to begin construction owing to outside concerns over issues like power consumption and environmental damage.

Under CEO Tim Cook, Apple has also taken a broader pro-privacy stance, most famously refusing to code a backdoor into iOS so the FBI could access the iPhone 5c of San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook. The agency ultimately paid for outside help, something which is still drawing investigation by news agencies.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 14
    aaronjaaronj Posts: 1,595member
    Sorry, James Comey -- there's no way you're getting your hands on my love letters back and forth with Taylor Swift.  NO WAY!


    Seriously, though, it's pretty clear who's in the right here.  This will be interesting to follow.
    lostkiwi
  • Reply 2 of 14
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 1,739member
    I see my awful state of PA is getting into this crap now...
  • Reply 3 of 14
    I'm definitely pro-privacy, but this one seems a little different. Given a scenario where there was a US warrant for data extraction, the data center resides in the US, and the company in question (e.g. Google) would normally comply with the court order and hand over the data in in question, I'm struggling to understand how it would be any different when the data center is not in the US. If the data center and it's data is owned by Google, I don't think it matters where the data is physically located, right? Maybe I'm just a fuddy duddy...
  • Reply 4 of 14
    holyoneholyone Posts: 377member
    tbehunin said:
    I'm definitely pro-privacy, but this one seems a little different. Given a scenario where there was a US warrant for data extraction, the data center resides in the US, and the company in question (e.g. Google) would normally comply with the court order and hand over the data in in question, I'm struggling to understand how it would be any different when the data center is not in the US. If the data center and it's data is owned by Google, I don't think it matters where the data is physically located, right? Maybe I'm just a fuddy duddy...
    As I see it it's a question of jurisdiction the infrustructure in question is out of the FED's legal area of operation (America) thus it lacks the authority, just as the FBI can't get a warrant to search a house in China as they have zero authority there even if that house belonged to an American, what they were suppose to do is ask cooperation from the local authorities of wherever the data center Is, but J Edger's brats think they can do as they please in the name of Islamic terror 

    The real question is how much thought do these guys put on the consequence of these demands, coz you can bet you're mama's china ;)  that if such a thing ever prevailed other countries would do the same thing to American citizens would the FBI be cool with that ? 

    StrangeDaysjbdragonlostkiwi
  • Reply 5 of 14
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 18,909member
    sog35 said:
    So Google does not like it when others spy on them? 

    How ironic.
    You should read a little more carefully...
     Or at least read a little

    This has zero to do with anyone spying on Google. It's all to do with what is legally required disclosure of information that might (or might not be) important to a law enforcement related investigation.  It's an issue where fandom has no place. 
  • Reply 6 of 14
    jfanningjfanning Posts: 3,379member
    tbehunin said:
    I'm definitely pro-privacy, but this one seems a little different. Given a scenario where there was a US warrant for data extraction, the data center resides in the US, and the company in question (e.g. Google) would normally comply with the court order and hand over the data in in question, I'm struggling to understand how it would be any different when the data center is not in the US. If the data center and it's data is owned by Google, I don't think it matters where the data is physically located, right? Maybe I'm just a fuddy duddy...

    What part of "the data is not in the US" do you have the issue with?  Would you be ok if a cop from another country just turned up, arrested you and dragged you back to their country without applying the US laws?
    StrangeDaysanomejbdragonlostkiwi
  • Reply 7 of 14
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 5,103member
    tbehunin said:
    I'm definitely pro-privacy, but this one seems a little different. Given a scenario where there was a US warrant for data extraction, the data center resides in the US, and the company in question (e.g. Google) would normally comply with the court order and hand over the data in in question, I'm struggling to understand how it would be any different when the data center is not in the US. If the data center and it's data is owned by Google, I don't think it matters where the data is physically located, right? Maybe I'm just a fuddy duddy...
    The physical location of things is pretty important with respect to laws. 
    jbdragon
  • Reply 8 of 14
    carnegiecarnegie Posts: 378member
    jfanning said:
    tbehunin said:
    I'm definitely pro-privacy, but this one seems a little different. Given a scenario where there was a US warrant for data extraction, the data center resides in the US, and the company in question (e.g. Google) would normally comply with the court order and hand over the data in in question, I'm struggling to understand how it would be any different when the data center is not in the US. If the data center and it's data is owned by Google, I don't think it matters where the data is physically located, right? Maybe I'm just a fuddy duddy...

    What part of "the data is not in the US" do you have the issue with?  Would you be ok if a cop from another country just turned up, arrested you and dragged you back to their country without applying the US laws?
    To be clear, in this case Google claims that it doesn't know where the data in question is. Because of the way Google's network works, the data could be in the U.S. or outside of the U.S. or in part in the U.S. and in part outside of it. It could be in the U.S. at one point in time (e.g., when Google was ordered to disclose it to the FBI) but outside of the U.S. at another point in time (e.g. when Google got around to retrieving it so that it could disclose it to the FBI), or vice versa. Google's postition was that it disclosed to the FBI the data that it knew to be in the U.S., but that it shouldn't be required to disclose to the FBI the data that it wasn't sure was in the United States.

    The magistrate judge distinguished the facts in this case from those in the Microsoft case in which the Second Circuit recently reached a contrary conclusion based on that - i.e., on Google not knowing where the data was. In the Second Circuit case, Microsoft knew that all of the data in question was in a data center in Ireland. However, as I read the reasoning of the magistrate judge in this case, that distinction wasn't really dispositive. In other words, based on his reasoning, the same conclusion should have been reached even if Google knew that the data was outside of the United States.

    Without getting lost in the legal nuances of the cases (which there are plenty of), the magistrate judge in this case disagreed with the Second Circuit panel on the legal question of whether a (Fourth Amendment) seizure occurs when Google (or in the alternative Microsoft) retrieves the data in question from a data center outside of the United States. He doesn't think a seizure occurs when that happens and thinks that the subsequent (Fourth Amendment) search of that data occurs in the United States.

    It seems to me that, if the reasoning of this decision is ultimately substantively upheld by the Third Circuit, that would represent a Circuit split. That might lead to the Supreme Court weighing in on the general issue.
    edited March 2017
  • Reply 9 of 14
    carnegiecarnegie Posts: 378member

    dysamoria said:
    I see my awful state of PA is getting into this crap now...
    To be clear, it wasn't Pennsylvania requesting this data, it was the FBI. The Pennsylvania court that the article refers to is a federal district court in Pennsylvania, not a Pennsylvania state court.
  • Reply 10 of 14
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,185member
    carnegie said:
    jfanning said:
    tbehunin said:
    I'm definitely pro-privacy, but this one seems a little different. Given a scenario where there was a US warrant for data extraction, the data center resides in the US, and the company in question (e.g. Google) would normally comply with the court order and hand over the data in in question, I'm struggling to understand how it would be any different when the data center is not in the US. If the data center and it's data is owned by Google, I don't think it matters where the data is physically located, right? Maybe I'm just a fuddy duddy...

    What part of "the data is not in the US" do you have the issue with?  Would you be ok if a cop from another country just turned up, arrested you and dragged you back to their country without applying the US laws?
    To be clear, in this case Google claims that it doesn't know where the data in question is. Because of the way Google's network works, the data could be in the U.S. or outside of the U.S. or in part in the U.S. and in part outside of it. It could be in the U.S. at one point in time (e.g., when Google was ordered to disclose it to the FBI) but outside of the U.S. at another point in time (e.g. when Google got around to retrieving it so that it could disclose it to the FBI), or vice versa. Google's postition was that it disclosed to the FBI the data that it knew to be in the U.S., but that it shouldn't be required to disclose to the FBI the data that it wasn't sure was in the United States.

    The magistrate judge distinguished the facts in this case from those in the Microsoft case in which the Second Circuit recently reached a contrary conclusion based on that - i.e., on Google not knowing where the data was. In the Second Circuit case, Microsoft knew that all of the data in question was in a data center in Ireland. However, as I read the reasoning of the magistrate judge in this case, that distinction wasn't really dispositive. In other words, based on his reasoning, the same conclusion should have been reached even if Google knew that the data was outside of the United States.

    Without getting lost in the legal nuances of the cases (which there are plenty of), the magistrate judge in this case disagreed with the Second Circuit panel on the legal question of whether a (Fourth Amendment) seizure occurs when Google (or in the alternative Microsoft) retrieves the data in question from a data center outside of the United States. He doesn't think a seizure occurs when that happens and thinks that the subsequent (Fourth Amendment) search of that data occurs in the United States.

    It seems to me that, if the reasoning of this decision is ultimately substantively upheld by the Third Circuit, that would represent a Circuit split. That might lead to the Supreme Court weighing in on the general issue.

    Not disagreeing with your position, but to be more clear and this information comes from a source who has some knowledge how Google stores information. You are correct Google has storage systems all over the world and specific date could be anywhere. However, what Google routinely does with data is this, when information comes in they immediately replicated the information in 3 separate location in the storage facility, once they do this, they immediately copy the data to 2 or 3 other data centers and then copy it to 3 locations in each of those facilities. The reason they do this is due to the fact Google does not use high performance enterprise class drives with high reliability they use the larges and cheapest drives they can buy and when a drives fails they toss it since they know the data is somewhere else on the network and they do not have to go through a restore process, like is normally done on enterprise class storage servers. Also this help speed up the search results to people. Google to claim they do not know where is information may be accurate on the surface, but they do know the data exist in at least 9 locations and at least 2 or 3 of them most likely are on US soil. Unless they are barred from storing some countries citizens data outside that countries boarders.

    In this case I am not sure what the FBI is asking for, are they asking for someone's data which is a US citizen or are they asking for someone's data who is not a US citizen and the FBI know what I know and asking for the data which is stored on US servers and the non-US citizen has not implied right to privacy in the US. This is why some countries demand Google only store data locally for local citizens.

  • Reply 11 of 14
    carnegiecarnegie Posts: 378member
    maestro64 said:
    carnegie said:
    jfanning said:
    tbehunin said:
    I'm definitely pro-privacy, but this one seems a little different. Given a scenario where there was a US warrant for data extraction, the data center resides in the US, and the company in question (e.g. Google) would normally comply with the court order and hand over the data in in question, I'm struggling to understand how it would be any different when the data center is not in the US. If the data center and it's data is owned by Google, I don't think it matters where the data is physically located, right? Maybe I'm just a fuddy duddy...

    What part of "the data is not in the US" do you have the issue with?  Would you be ok if a cop from another country just turned up, arrested you and dragged you back to their country without applying the US laws?
    To be clear, in this case Google claims that it doesn't know where the data in question is. Because of the way Google's network works, the data could be in the U.S. or outside of the U.S. or in part in the U.S. and in part outside of it. It could be in the U.S. at one point in time (e.g., when Google was ordered to disclose it to the FBI) but outside of the U.S. at another point in time (e.g. when Google got around to retrieving it so that it could disclose it to the FBI), or vice versa. Google's postition was that it disclosed to the FBI the data that it knew to be in the U.S., but that it shouldn't be required to disclose to the FBI the data that it wasn't sure was in the United States.

    The magistrate judge distinguished the facts in this case from those in the Microsoft case in which the Second Circuit recently reached a contrary conclusion based on that - i.e., on Google not knowing where the data was. In the Second Circuit case, Microsoft knew that all of the data in question was in a data center in Ireland. However, as I read the reasoning of the magistrate judge in this case, that distinction wasn't really dispositive. In other words, based on his reasoning, the same conclusion should have been reached even if Google knew that the data was outside of the United States.

    Without getting lost in the legal nuances of the cases (which there are plenty of), the magistrate judge in this case disagreed with the Second Circuit panel on the legal question of whether a (Fourth Amendment) seizure occurs when Google (or in the alternative Microsoft) retrieves the data in question from a data center outside of the United States. He doesn't think a seizure occurs when that happens and thinks that the subsequent (Fourth Amendment) search of that data occurs in the United States.

    It seems to me that, if the reasoning of this decision is ultimately substantively upheld by the Third Circuit, that would represent a Circuit split. That might lead to the Supreme Court weighing in on the general issue.

    Not disagreeing with your position, but to be more clear and this information comes from a source who has some knowledge how Google stores information. You are correct Google has storage systems all over the world and specific date could be anywhere. However, what Google routinely does with data is this, when information comes in they immediately replicated the information in 3 separate location in the storage facility, once they do this, they immediately copy the data to 2 or 3 other data centers and then copy it to 3 locations in each of those facilities. The reason they do this is due to the fact Google does not use high performance enterprise class drives with high reliability they use the larges and cheapest drives they can buy and when a drives fails they toss it since they know the data is somewhere else on the network and they do not have to go through a restore process, like is normally done on enterprise class storage servers. Also this help speed up the search results to people. Google to claim they do not know where is information may be accurate on the surface, but they do know the data exist in at least 9 locations and at least 2 or 3 of them most likely are on US soil. Unless they are barred from storing some countries citizens data outside that countries boarders.

    In this case I am not sure what the FBI is asking for, are they asking for someone's data which is a US citizen or are they asking for someone's data who is not a US citizen and the FBI know what I know and asking for the data which is stored on US servers and the non-US citizen has not implied right to privacy in the US. This is why some countries demand Google only store data locally for local citizens.

    Understood.

    Google's position, however, is that - for at least some of its services - it doesn't (currently) have the ability to determine where certain data is at any given time. Files are sometimes broken into pieces and different parts can be stored in different locations, and Google's network sometimes automatically moves data from one location to another.

    As for what the FBI is asking for: The warrants relate to account holders who reside in the U.S. and who are being investigated for crimes believed to have occurred in the United States. The information the FBI is seeking is believed to have been exchanged between people in the United States.
  • Reply 12 of 14
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 29,540member
    Americans don't stop being Americans when they travel to other countries. E-mails are the private property of their senders and receivers (except in cases where ones emails are considered the property of an employer). Searches and seizures must follow normal legal proceedings and not be subjected to fishing expeditions.
  • Reply 13 of 14
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,468member
    aaronj said:
    Sorry, James Comey -- there's no way you're getting your hands on my love letters back and forth with Taylor Swift.  NO WAY!


    Seriously, though, it's pretty clear who's in the right here.  This will be interesting to follow.
    Snag is now 'they'll' want to waterboard Tim to make him comply .. . 😳
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