Cyber & Technology

2nd Circuit Rules Against US Government in Microsoft Case

By Cody M. Poplin
Thursday, July 14, 2016, 11:06 AM

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today in the case Microsoft v. United States, finding that Stored Communications Act "does not authorize courts to issue and enforce against U.S.-based service providers warrants for the seizure of customer e-mail content that is stored exclusively on foreign servers." 

The case began in December 2013, when a New York district judge issued a warrant compelling Microsoft to produce emails of an account hosted on a server in Ireland. Microsoft refused the order, arguing that the U.S. government should make its request to Irish authorities under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) adopted by the two countries in 2001. The Department of Justice argued that since Microsoft is a U.S.-based company, it did not need to go through the MLAT process. 

The Court reversed the District Court's denial of Microsoft's previous motion to quash, vacated its order holding the technology company in civil contempt of court for refusing to produce the data, and remanded the case back to the District Court for the Southern District of New York with instructions to quash the warrant insofar as it demands production of user content stored outside the United States. 

You can read the full opinion here.