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Microsoft Fights for Email Privacy

Microsoft is currently in litigation over a Department of Justice search warrant which seeks to access email records stored in a datacenter in Ireland. Having lost the last two cases, Microsoft intends on making their point before the US Court of Appeals for the second circuit. The implications of the DoJ’s request could spurr international data privacy concerns. According to George Lobiondo and Craig Newman,

“If the U.S. government is permitted to serve warrants on U.S. technology companies and obtain email that is stored in other countries, will it cause other countries to serve warrants on tech companies for the private communications of American citizens stored in U.S. data centers owned by foreign companies? Or, will American companies that store personal information abroad be exposing themselves to liability if they can no longer keep their promise to maintain the confidentiality of their customers???????? information?”

The DoJ has expressed their view that emails be treated as business records of the hosting company. This means that a search warrant should be enough to access the digital record regardless of their stored location. Microsoft, however, believes that emails are personal digital documents and that a U.S. warrant does not have the authority to force Microsoft to provide this data. Microsoft has the support of major technology companies and internet service providers. Grant Gross states, “Among the companies signing onto the [amicus] briefs were Amazon.com, Apple, AT&T, eBay, Verizon Communications, and serveral media organizations. More than a dozen trade groups, and 34 computer science professors also signed onto briefs supporting Microsoft.”