Last week, the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reversed a previous lower court decision and found in favour of Microsoft in a long running dispute over a government information request.
In 2014, the US government successfully received a warrant for email records sought in connection with a drug case. Microsoft refused to comply with the orders and was subsequently found to be in contempt of court. However, the Court of Appeal has now ruled that the US government could not force Microsoft to hand over customer emails stored in an offshore server in Ireland because, amongst other things, the Stored Communications Act did not intend to legislate to allow for such warrant provisions. This decision comes hot off the heels of the EU-approved Privacy Shield, and it will be interesting to see how a similar decision will be dealt with moving forward in light of this regime.
This represents a big win for Microsoft and the tech sector more broadly as service providers now have a basis for maintaining the position of protecting its users’ privacy. This decision also highlights that legal regimes are territorial notwithstanding the global nature of new technology offerings.
To read Microsoft’s news release following the decision, please see here.