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United States Cannot Circumvent Foreign Privacy Laws, Microsoft Says
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Microsoft has argued that it does not have to turn over data to the U.S. government.

Summary: Although the United States served a warrant on Microsoft in 2013, asking for data to be turned over, the company has argued that it does not have to provide the information.

According to The Register, Microsoft’s general counsel and executive vice president, Brad Smith, has claimed that the company will continue to fight against the federal government’s efforts to force Microsoft to provide users’ data that was stored outside of the United States.


Smith said that he believes the company has the support of the law as it refuses to turn over information that was stored in an Irish data center.

In December of 2013, the United States issued a warrant for the information. Although Microsoft appealed the validity of the warrant, it was upheld in July 2014, when a court stated that the location of the data did not matter because Microsoft exerted “control” over it.

Privacy laws may change as a result of the court battle.

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Smith responded, “Law enforcement needs to be able to do its job, but it needs to do it in a way that respects fundamental rights, including the personal privacy of people around the world and the sovereignty of other nations.”

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Ireland also responded, filing an amicus brief in the case. Ireland argues that is sovereignty has been stepped on because the warrant tried to get around a Mutual Legal assistance Treaty that would have involved Irish authorities. Ireland argued that foreign courts must respect its sovereignty, according to the New York Times.

Last year, Microsoft sued Samsung for patent royalties.

Microsoft has called for a reform of the laws in the United States. The US Electronics Communications Privacy Act is close to 30 years old, which is ancient in respect to technology. Microsoft said that any updated laws “must respect the sovereignty of other countries and the fundamental human rights and online privacy of all users—they cannot be a blunt instrument to seek unilateral and unfettered access to information.”

Smith spoke out against the privacy “arms race.”

Additionally, Smith added that there is case precedent that limits the government’s reach from going beyond its borders. He also said that “there’s no indication that Congress intended to expand the geographic reach of search warrants when the statute was written in 1986, long before the dawn of the era of cloud computing.”

Nearly thirty technology companies, including AT&T, Verizon, and Apple, have either director or indirectly commented on the debate, supporting Microsoft. Civil liberties groups, 17 news outlets, and 35 science professors have also voiced their support, as well as a member of the European Parliament. According to NBC, many of these individuals and/or companies filed court briefs.

Source: The Register

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