The Supreme Court heard oral argument Tuesday morning in United States v. Microsoft Corp.—a case that readers will by now be familiar with. (See a fantastic summary of Lawfare coverage here).
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In our interconnected world, the electronic data that we create may be stored far away from us, without regard for national boundaries. If our data become relevant to legitimate law enforcement investigations, the borderless nature of digital data can create obstacles for government investigators and the tech companies who receive government requests for their customers’ electronic data. Yet, efforts to overcome these barriers must address the tension between the needs of law enforcement and the rights of individuals.
The Microsoft warrant case in the Supreme Court involves a demand by the U.S. government that Microsoft repatriate content data stored in a data center in Ireland and provide it to DOJ. The case raises a number of deeply interesting and complex issues about law enforcement cooperation; extraterritoriality of Ameican law; commercial matters; data privacy concerns; and implications for reciprocal sovereignity in a digitized world. Along with many far more notable former officials, I joined an amicus brief filed the other day in support of neither party. Here's a copy:
The Supreme Court announced this morning that it will grant the Department of Justice’s petition for a writ of certiorari in its dispute with Microsoft over access to emails stored on the company’s Irish servers. The crux of the dispute is the territorial reach (and territorial applicability) of the Stored Communications Act (SCA), a subset of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) that governs law enforcement access to communications data.
On Friday, Magistrate Judge Thomas J. Rueter of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania ordered Google to comply with search warrants for emails stored overseas.
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."