Feeds

US judge: Our digital search warrants apply ANYWHERE

Azure looking less lovely as Microsoft ordered to hand over e-mails held in Dublin

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

Microsoft has been told by a US District Court that it must hand over e-mail details to an unnamed law enforcement agency, even though that data is held offshore.

In a case that will exacerbate concerns in non-American countries about the extra-territorial reach of US laws, a magistrate in the District Court of Southern New York, Judge James Francis has ruled that the tech giant “cannot refuse to turn over customer information and emails stored in other countries when issued a valid search warrant from U.S. law enforcement agencies,” according to Reuters.

The ruling will be a blow to Microsoft's attempts to assure non-US customers that their cloud data is safe from American spooks' demands for access. The company has criticised countries like Australia for policies that require government data to be stored locally: now, it will be fighting a ruling that extends US search warrants' reach into offshore data centres.

The judge's reasoning is based on an efficiency argument: if Microsoft isn't obliged to hand over the information the warrant seeks, the unnamed US law enforcers seeking the identity of (and other information about) the unnamed target of the warrant would have to coordinate with bodies in other countries (in this case, Ireland, since the data is held in Dublin).

A requirement for such coordination would mean that “the burden on the government would be substantial, and law enforcement efforts would be seriously impeded”, Judge Francis stated. He also ruled that the US Stored Communications Act is not bound by the same law as restricts search warrants to US territory, since the SCA covers digital communications.

That's because Judge Francis chose to treat the warrant as the equivalent of a subpoena, in which documents demanded by the court must be produced, no matter where they're held.

Microsoft has responded by saying that customer data outside America shouldn't be subject to search and seizure by US authorities, and is seeking a review of the decision. Reuters says a Microsoft statement says “A US prosecutor cannot obtain a U.S. warrant to search someone's home located in another country, just as another country's prosecutor cannot obtain a court order in her home country to conduct a search in the United States. We think the same rules should apply in the online world, but the government disagrees.” ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Arrr: Freetard-bothering Digital Economy Act tied up, thrown in the hold
Ministry of Fun confirms: Yes, we're busy doing nothing
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
Apple smacked with privacy sueball over Location Services
Class action launched on behalf of 100 million iPhone owners
US judge: YES, cops or feds so can slurp an ENTIRE Gmail account
Crooks don't have folders labelled 'drug records', opines NY beak
ONE EMAIL costs mining company $300 MEEELION
Environmental activist walks free after hoax sent share price over a cliff
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.