Microsoft are preparing for an epic showdown against the US government as they return to court in an attempt to overturn a ruling stating that they have to hand over files stored in an Irish data centre.
Microsoft are arguing that the files are under the jurisdiction of the Irish government and that the US “must respect the sovereignty of other countries”. They believe that it is up to the US government to get the permission from Ireland for the documents, not for them to just hand them over with no regard to Irish privacy laws.
On the surface this case may seem as though it’s centred on emails containing information about drug trafficking, but the recurring theme and argument from Microsoft seems to be about privacy.
Privacy has become quite a hot topic in the past few years with companies losing business over hacking scandals and breaches of information, so it’s no wonder Microsoft are fighting to protect, not just their clients information, but their own reputation.
Some may consider it a little ironic considering the recent privacy controversy around Windows 10, however with Apple, Amazon, HP, eBay, AT&T, Verizon and Salesforce being just a few of the larger companies who have voiced support for Microsoft, it seems this issue may be a little bigger than just a few privacy settings!
Repercussions of a ruling against Microsoft could have the potential to shape privacy laws and boundaries worldwide, their lawyer Brad Smith was recently quoted as saying “If the US government is permitted to serve warrants on tech companies in the United States and obtain people’s emails in any country, it will open the floodgate for other countries to serve warrants on tech companies for the private communications of American citizens that are stored in the United States in a data centre owned by a foreign company”.
This could essentially lead to any country demanding whatever information they please with no regard to foreign laws regarding this information and its privacy.
Using services such as The Cloud means your information could be stored in any country, meaning its storage and protection could fall under completely different laws and jurisdiction of the person who stored it. A ruling against Microsoft in this case could hugely effect Cloud services and encourage people to use data storage in their own country where they know it is (most likely) safe.
Whilst the US government have implied Microsoft are merely fighting for their own reputation and sales, stating “Microsoft should not be heard to complain that doing so might harm its bottom line.”
Whilst the outcome of this battle is still unsure, Microsoft are determined to go to war with their lawyer stating they are prepared to take the matter “all the way to the Supreme Court” if they lose the appeal.
Do you think Microsoft should be allowed to refuse information surrounding criminal activity? Sound off below.
The projectfive team.