US Supreme Court to hear federal case against Microsoft on digital privacy

US Supreme Court to hear federal case against Microsoft on digital privacy

"We will continue to press our case in court that the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA)-a law enacted decades before there was such a thing as cloud computing-was never meant to reach within other countries' borders".

It comes after Microsoft refused to hand over emails during a USA drug trafficking investigation on the basis the police's warrant did not extend to Ireland, where the messages were stored. The court will hear arguments early next year and rule by June.

Microsoft appeared to have been victorious, but the US Supreme Court has now agreed to make a final decision on the matter, following a petition from the US Department of Justice.

"Congress alone has the authority and the institutional competence to craft a new legislative scheme for a world not anticipated in 1986", Microsoft argued.

A judge upheld the warrant, but a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit overturned the ruling.

In December 2013, the US government issued a warrant in connection with an ongoing criminal narcotics investigation to seize data contained in an email account of a Microsoft customer. Officials obtained a search warrant, but Microsoft refused to turn over the information, taking the matter to court instead.

It will examine whether U.S. law enforcement should be allowed to access evidence held on servers overseas during an investigation.

The Justice Department said in its appeal that the lower court ruling "gravely threatens public safety and national security" because it limits the government's ability to "ward off terrorism and similar national security threats and to investigate and prosecute crimes".

A coalition of 33 USA states and Puerto Rico backed the Justice Department's appeal.

"The decision provides a roadmap for terrorists and criminals in the United States to insulate electronic communications from USA investigators", Wall argued.

A group of 33 states joined the U.S.in urging Supreme Court review.

It contradicts the basic premise that before a USA statute reaches across another country's borders, it should be clear that's what Congress intended when it passed the law. And if the United States 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 differed slightly to Microsoft's case, however, in that this data was regularly moved around the world to improve speed - and was never meant to be stored in one specific location.

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