Reuters today is reporting that a New York, U.S. District judge, Loretta Preska, is ordering Microsoft to hand over emails stored in one of the company's datacenters in Dublin, Ireland. The request is backed by a search warrant approved by a federal judge.
Microsoft has argued that data residing in another country should be held to the laws of that country, not by an overreaching U.S. legal system.
Preska stated that it's a matter of control instead of where the data resides, meaning that if the data is controlled by a U.S. company, somehow that data also falls under U.S. jurisdiction. This is similar to how U.S. banks must provide information on financial transactions for accounts held in other countries.
While this may be the first case that a U.S. search warrant has been challenged, it will probably not be the last. Microsoft has been leading the charge to revamp a system that is not attuned to the modern economy, but it's not alone. Other companies, including AT&T, Verizon, Apple, Cisco, and Verizon, are working to support Microsoft's efforts.
In an increasingly global technology economy, it's sad to see the U.S. government take stances like this. As I've stated before, rulings like this will force many U.S.-based companies to relocate headquarters overseas. And, unless things change, and perceptions are altered, that's exactly what is going to happen – sooner than later.
An appeal is already in motion and Microsoft's Executive Vice President and General Counsel Brad Smith, has responded with the following...
"The only issue that was certain this morning was that the District Court’s decision would not represent the final step in this process. We will appeal promptly and continue to advocate that people’s email deserves strong privacy protection in the U.S. and around the world."
The Reuters report is here: Microsoft ordered by U.S. judge to submit customer's emails from abroad