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US Government to Take Microsoft to Supreme Court over Refusal to Provide Overseas Customer Data

The US Government has requested that the Supreme Court review a lower court's assertion that Microsoft doesn't have to hand over the data of an Irish citizen. However, the company's chief legal officer argues that it may also let overseas territories access the data of U.S. natives.


The will continue a long-standing case against via the Supreme Court. The DoJ has repeatedly tried to force the company to hand over data from its servers in Dublin, but has been met with stark opposition.

The information relates to a suspected drug trafficker, and contains emails and private account information. Other such as Apple, and Mozilla have since backed the Redmond giant, arguing that it would set a dangerous precendent.

The case has now been running since 2014, and has been a long back and forth between the two powers. Initially, federal magistrate judge disagreed with Microsoft, but the company then appealed to the District Court for Southern New York. In 2016, the 3 panel court ruled in Microsoft's favor.

The DoJ wasn't happy with this, and took it to the second court of appeals and an 8 judge panel. In January of this year, the court had a split vote, meaning the previous decision was upheld.

Instead, it says the DoJ should follow the proper legal channels and communicate with over the matter. Seperately, Ireland noted that it's willing to support such a request, but the US Government said it would take too long.

To The Surpreme Court

The Justice Department has now petitioned the Supreme Court to review the opinion, saying the lower court had misinterpreted the law. It's argument is that if the data can accessed from the U.S., Microsoft should have to turn it over.

Natually, Microsoft president and cheif legal officer disagrees. In a blog post last week, he suggested it would harm not just EU citizens but domestic ones, too.

“If the decision in our case is reversed, and we're forced to provide the U.S. government with the email of foreign citizens abroad, there would be little basis for us to reject requests from other governments for American email,” he explains. “This dilemma, which could be possible under today's request from DOJ, would create additional diplomatic tensions with other governments and present a security risk to the email of people and businesses in America”.

Smith also highlighted an ongoing discussion in congress about updating the 31-year-old law on which the case stands on.

“It seems backward to keep arguing in court when there is positive momentum in Congress toward better law for everyone,” he said. “The DOJ's position would put businesses in impossible conflict-of-law situations and hurt the security, jobs, and personal rights of Americans.”

Ryan Maskell
Ryan Maskellhttps://ryanmaskell.co.uk
Ryan has had a passion for gaming and technology since early childhood. Fusing the skills from his Creative Writing and Publishing degree with profound technical knowledge, he enjoys covering news about Microsoft. As an avid writer, he is also working on his debut novel.

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