Microsoft Wins Privacy Case Versus US Government

Microsoft Wins Privacy Case Versus US Government (MSFT) By Richard Saintvilus | July 14, 2016 — 9:06 PM EDT

In what some analysts are calling a landmark appeal victory for Microsoft Corporation (MSFT), a federal appeals court on Thursday overturned an order by the U.S. government, who in 2014 demanded that the software giant turn over information stored in its servers in Dublin, Ireland.

The appeals court determined a data warrant issued by the U.S. government cannot force Microsoft to hand over customer information, including emails, stored in servers overseas. This ruling is considered a landmark verdict because of the precedent it sets, effectively shielding U.S.-based companies from having to give in to warrants demanding data located outside of U.S. borders.

According to Reuters, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (SCA) in Manhattan voted in Microsoft’s favor by a 3-0 decision, calling it “a defeat for the U.S. Department of Justice, and a victory for privacy advocates and for technology companies offering cloud computing and other services around the world.”

“Communications held by U.S. service providers on servers located outside the United States are beyond the reach of domestic search warrants issued under the Stored Communications Act, a 1986 federal law,” said circuit judge Susan Carney.

Microsoft has fought this battle, which stemmed from a 2013 warrant issued by a New York judge demanding access to the email records of a suspect linked to a drug trafficking investigation, according to the Wall Street Journal.

“Congress did not intend the SCA’s warrant provisions to apply extraterritorially,” Carney wrote. “The focus of those provisions is protection of a user’s privacy interests.” See also, 3 Effects of EU Privacy Laws On Big Tech’s Profits.

As with Apple Inc.’s (AAPL) fight with the FBI over whether it should be forced to unlock an iPhone belonging to San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook, Microsoft had garnered plenty of support from the tech community. Like Apple, which stood its ground, Microsoft fought and won. But this will not be the last battle between technology companies and the federal government. See also, Microsoft (MSFT) Challenges Unconstitutional Law in Court.

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