Microsoft Free-For-All Data Case A Win

15 Jul, 2016

The US Government has been intentional about requesting authority access to the firm’s servers abroad, but a court has now ruled this cannot be forced.

In what now sets a precedent for privacy protection in the sector of cloud computing and data services, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) will not be allowed to access Microsoft’s foreign servers.

The intention was to obtain data regarding a drugs investigation, from a server in Ireland, according to the BBC.

This court ruling now overturns an original court order granted in 2014 in Manhattan, US. If the DOJ decides to appeal, the case would be taken to the Supreme Court.

According to the BBC, Microsoft said it welcomed the ruling. “It makes clear that the US government can no longer seek to use its search warrants on a unilateral basis to reach into other countries and obtain the emails that belong to people of other nationalities,” says Brad Smith, President and Chief Legal Officer at Microsoft.

In this case, Microsoft was backed by other tech companies such as Amazon, Cisco and Apple. In addition, a UK group campaigning for digital rights also backed Microsoft. The Open Rights Group said: “The US Court’s decision has upheld the right to individual privacy in the face of the US State’s intrusion into personal liberty.

“As a consequence, US law enforcement agencies must respect European citizens’ digital privacy rights and the protection of their personal data.

“States should not arbitrarily reach across borders just because they feel they can bully companies into doing so.”

The ruling against the DOJ came from Judge Susan Carney, on grounds that the Stored Communications Act of 1986 limited warrant reach applicable beyond US jurisdiction; a factor that is crucial in maintaining positive relations with other countries.

The BBC states that another judge, Gerard Lynch, says the Stored Communications Act is in need of an update. “I concur in the result…But without any illusion that the result should even be regarded as a rational policy outcome, let alone celebrated as a milestone in protecting privacy.”

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