Supreme Court will decide on Microsoft, DOJ fight over global emails

Microsoft Email-Access Fight With US Gets Supreme Court Review

Supreme Court agrees to hear DOJ petition in Microsoft data warrant case

The U.S. government had sought the emails in a drug trafficking investigation.

The case, United States v.

"If the Court rules that US warrants work overseas, it will open the floodgates to demands from other countries that their legal processes be able to compel other providers to disclose content that they hold in the USA, including the content held by Americans", said Nojeim in email remarks sent to eWEEK.

Microsoft Corp., began in 2013 when a NY judge issued a search warrant seeking records and emails from a Microsoft account in a case connected with a criminal investigation. Officials obtained a search warrant, but Microsoft refused to turn over the information, taking the matter to court instead.

The case began in 2013, when USA prosecutors got a warrant to access emails in a drug trafficking investigation. The full circuit then split evenly on whether that decision was correct. The tech company refused, and in July 2016, an appeals court ruled in its favor, concluding that the Stored Communications Act did not apply to the communications stored overseas. The panel's ruling, the department's brief said, "is causing immediate, grave and ongoing harm to public safety, national security and the enforcement of our laws".

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"Under this opinion, hundreds if not thousands of investigations of crimes - ranging from terrorism, to child pornography, to fraud - are being or will be hampered by the government's inability to obtain electronic evidence", Deputy Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall argued in court papers.

The corporate giant noted that the Justice Department has asked Congress to amend the law to address just that issue.

Microsoft added that the Justice Department's position posed a threat to technology companies by requiring them to choose between complying with a warrant and disobeying foreign laws. And if the USA can use a warrant to take any data so long as it's held by an American company, doesn't that invite foreign governments to do the same thing?

The case will pit federal and state officials against the technology industry, which has lined up behind Microsoft in the litigation.

A coalition of 33 USA states and Puerto Rico backed the Justice Department's appeal. Visa and MasterCard settled, but American Express fought the case.

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In the appeals court, Microsoft was supported by dozens of technology and media companies including Amazon, Apple, CNN and Verizon Communications, as well as the American Civil Liberties Union and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce business group.

The Justice Department agreed that the 2nd Circuit had gone astray.

In June, the DoJ appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, which has now accepted it.

Adam Liptak is a New York Times writer.

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