The 2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals will not reevaluate its decision to deny DoJ access to Microsoft overseas emails. The 4-4 ruling means the US Government will not be able to view the emails of a drug trafficking suspect on an Irish server.
The judges state once more that the Stored Communications Act (SCA) does not permit the DoJ to search worldwide. As a result, they won’t be re-hearing the July decision. However, Judge Susan Carney also points out that the Act is due an overhaul:
“We recognize at the same time that in many ways the SCA has been left behind by technology,” she said. “It is overdue for a congressional revision that would continue to protect privacy but would more effectively balance concerns of international comity with law enforcement needs and service provider obligations in the global context in which this case arose.”
Other judges disagreed with the decision, arguing that the court has penalized the tactic for other investigations.
“[The ruling] indisputably, and severely, restricted an essential investigative tool used thousands of times a year in important criminal investigations around the country,” said Judge Jose Cabranes.“To top this off, the panel majority’s decision does not serve any serious, legitimate, or substantial privacy interest.”
Microsoft has been fighting the case since 2013, when Judge James Francis issued a search warrant for all the company’s emails. The Redmond giant was one of the first to object, and the initial ruling set a precedent for other cases.
Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith previously said the company will “stand up for what we believe are our customers’ constitutional and fundamental rights – rights that help protect privacy and promote free expression.”
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