Microsoft's international data privacy fight moves to U.S. Supreme Court

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The Surpreme Court will on Tuesday hear arguments in a long-running case between the U.S. government and Microsoft, following the latter's 2013 refusal to turn over data stored on an Irish server, demanded as part of a drug trafficking investigation.




Microsoft's position is that the Stored Communications Act of 1986 -- the basis for the government data request -- is outdated in the age of the internet and cloud computing, CNN said. The company has moreover argued that allowing seizure of overseas data would violate international laws and treaties.

Government attorneys have countered that where data is stored is irrelevant if it can be reached in the U.S. "with the click of a computer mouse."

Apple, the Center for Democracy & Technology, and other organizations are among those who have submitted amicus curiae briefs to the Supreme Court in support of Microsoft.

If the Court rules in favor of U.S. law enforcement, Microsoft could find itself in a tricky situation. Customers could be less willing to trust their data with the company, and at the same time, the European Union is planning to implement its General Data Protection Regulation later this year, at which point handing Irish data over to the U.S. would break the law in a different way.

Apple is presumably hoping to avoid similar burdens with its own data centers. The company has yet to finish its first two European facilities, but already has others in places like China.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 10
    steven n.steven n. Posts: 1,123member
    Go MS. While there are valid cases where extradition of data from one country is needed and required, this process needs to go through an arbitration between the countries involved. Also, citizenship of the person needs to be considered. For example, if the data transfer happened in Ireland from an Irish citizen, there is no reasonable cause for the US to be able to access this data unilaterally.

    If there is a true need for this data, the US needs to work with Ireland to extradite the data just like they would a person.

    This means, the countries of the world need to start talking to each other and work out these agreements. JMHO.
    radarthekattzm41numenorean
  • Reply 2 of 10
    Good for Microsoft!

    (I never thought I would utter that sentence, but kudos is due where it's due).
    numenoreancornchip
  • Reply 3 of 10
    steven n. said:
    Go MS. While there are valid cases where extradition of data from one country is needed and required, this process needs to go through an arbitration between the countries involved. Also, citizenship of the person needs to be considered. For example, if the data transfer happened in Ireland from an Irish citizen, there is no reasonable cause for the US to be able to access this data unilaterally.

    If there is a true need for this data, the US needs to work with Ireland to extradite the data just like they would a person.

    This means, the countries of the world need to start talking to each other and work out these agreements. JMHO.
    I agree with you regarding the need for arbitration.  The problem is the US government is supremely arrogant, and has a history of acting unilaterally.  

    The Supreme Court has a good chance to rule “America First” on this one.  Doing so is going to kick off a political firestorm, and our politicians aren’t competent.

    Congress & the Executive Branch, should have been working on this with feedback from other Countries to create a consensus’s on cross-boarder data handling.  As far as I can tell, no agreement exists... (though something is in place with Britain)

    Until those agreements are reached, the Supreme Court lacks a framework to rule on the issue (intelligently).

    If the case goes against Microsoft (and it probably will) this will be a headwind for American companies.  Eventually bribes, I mean campaign contributions will get things rolling.

    The problem is systemic, America is again surrendering the leadership position in directing the discussion, the same say it did with Global Warming.

    When the Supreme Court ruling comes out, don’t get pissed a them, this cluster @#$& is on the other branches of government.
    tzm41jony0numenorean
  • Reply 4 of 10
    tundraboytundraboy Posts: 1,622member
    Try to imagine Chinese law enforcement demanding that a US company operating in China surrender files owned by a Chinese 'fugitive' held in the US company's servers in the US.  I swear, sometimes I think they only hire idiot lawyers at the DOJ.
    numenoreancornchip
  • Reply 5 of 10
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,860member
    And people wonder why so many resist gun control in this country.   

    Serioudly there is no limit on what the feds will try to get away with ignoring the constitution, international law and common sense.     I dont like the term common sense but it kinda applies here.   The feds are basically asking for MS to perform a search in another country with out following the proper warrant process in that country.  It makes me wonder if the collected data can even be legally used in a criminal case.  

    Sadly there is a police state mentality developing in this country, surprisingly driven by the left that would enjoy seeing MS loose this battle.   There seems to be an excessive desire to give up all of our freedoms just to feel safe.  I really dont see any good coming from the people demanding safety over freedom.   Sadly the political landscape is such that you are as a person trapped between idiots on the left and right that hunger to control your life.  
    numenoreancornchip
  • Reply 6 of 10
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,656member
    tundraboy said:
    Try to imagine Chinese law enforcement demanding that a US company operating in China surrender files owned by a Chinese 'fugitive' held in the US company's servers in the US.  I swear, sometimes I think they only hire idiot lawyers at the DOJ.

    Actually the Chinese do not need to do that, they send over spies as University Students and those spy students are access US servers and information under the cover of doing research for universities, and these student then end up in US companies.

    http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/national/national-security/article199929429.html

    cornchip
  • Reply 7 of 10
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,875member
    This argument for Microsoft may become more difficult now that the EU looks to be formulating a law that will attempt to do the same thing with companies here. 
  • Reply 8 of 10
    I reckon this case is exactly why the EU recently suggested they're looking to do the same (access data from any country, including US) - a bit of of a warning shot across the bow so to speak. If the US declare it fair game to access worldwide data then it's fair game for others to do it to the US too.
  • Reply 9 of 10
    adm1 said:
    I reckon this case is exactly why the EU recently suggested they're looking to do the same (access data from any country, including US) - a bit of of a warning shot across the bow so to speak. If the US declare it fair game to access worldwide data then it's fair game for others to do it to the US too.
    That is very much how I interpreted the news that the EU is considering such legislation - as a shot across the (U.S. / Congress') bow.

    I take it as the EU saying to Congress... If your Supreme Court interprets your existing laws as requiring Microsoft to comply with the warrant in question, then you need to change your laws to prevent that kind of extraterritorial application going forward.
    cornchip
  • Reply 10 of 10
    cornchipcornchip Posts: 1,389member
    adm1 said:
    I reckon this case is exactly why the EU recently suggested they're looking to do the same (access data from any country, including US) - a bit of of a warning shot across the bow so to speak. If the US declare it fair game to access worldwide data then it's fair game for others to do it to the US too.
    Delightful.
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