Microsoft Wins Appeal in Ireland Email Case
The U.S. Court of Appeals reverses a ruling ordering Microsoft to turn over emails sought by the DOJ that were stored on a company data center in Ireland.Microsoft scored a big legal victory today in a closely watched court case with data privacy implications for individuals and businesses around the world. On July 14, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York reversed an earlier District Court ruling that ordered Microsoft to turn over Outlook.com emails sought by the U.S. Department of Justice that were stored on a data center located in Ireland. In 2013, the DOJ had served the Redmond, Wash.-based technology giant a warrant for the emails. Arguing that under U.S. law, warrants cannot be enforced in other countries, Microsoft challenged the U.S. government in court. Today, the Second Circuit sided with Microsoft. "We conclude that Congress did not intend the SCA's [Stored Communications Act's] warrant provisions to apply extraterritorially," stated the court in its 43-page decision. "The focus of those provisions is protection of a user’s privacy interests. Accordingly, the SCA does not authorize a U.S. court to issue and enforce an SCA warrant against a United States‐based service provider for the contents of a customer's electronic communications stored on servers located outside the United States."
Brad Smith, Microsoft's president and chief legal officer, praised the decision, calling it "a major victory for the protection of people's privacy rights under their own laws rather than the reach of foreign governments," in a blog post. "As a global company we've long recognized that if people around the world are to trust the technology they use, they need to have confidence that their personal information will be protected by the laws of their own country."