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What Does the Microsoft Supreme Court Case Mean for Data?
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Summary: The Supreme Court is hearing a case that will decide whether data stored in another country can be accessed by the U.S. government. 

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court heard U.S. v. Microsoft, a case that will impact data privacy.


According to Wired, “Five years ago, U.S. law enforcement served Microsoft a search warrant for emails as part of a U.S. drug trafficking investigation. In response, Microsoft handed over data stored on American servers, like the person’s address book. But it didn’t give the government the actual content of the individual’s emails, because they were stored at a Microsoft data center in Dublin, Ireland, where the subject said he lived when he signed up for his Outlook account. In a case that begins Tuesday, the Supreme Court will decide whether those borders matter when it comes to data.”

The case will affect the $250 billion cloud industry and what the limits are for law enforcement who want to access digital communications. Jennifer Daskal, a professor at American University Washington College of Law, told Wired that “the case is hugely important, it has implications for the future of the internet.”

Microsoft said that American law enforcement would have to go through Irish police to access the emails stored on the Dublin-based cloud system. The Department of Justice, however, believes that the U.S. warrant should be enough to access the emails.

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“In other words, the government is saying that copying or moving the subject’s emails stored in Ireland isn’t search and seizure—only directly handing the emails to the US government is,” Wired stated.

Civil rights groups such as the ACLU argued that the government is incorrectly interpreting the Fourth Amendment, and Microsoft said that this case concerns digital privacy, something that should be valued.

“We believe that people’s privacy rights should be protected by the laws of their own countries and we believe that information stored in the cloud should have the same protections as paper stored in your desk,” Brad Smith, Microsoft’s chief legal officer, said.

Microsoft added that if the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the U.S. government then that would give other countries the rights to read emails located in American cloud-based systems.

In contrast, the Trump administration stated that if the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Microsoft then this will impede law enforcement’s ability to get evidence for serious cybercrimes such as child pornography or terrorism.

What do you think of this case? Let us know in the comments below.


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