International -- 2016

Microsoft Corp. v. United States   (2nd Circuit)

Search warrant issued under the Stored Communications Act

This case is about a U.S. Government warrant for access to e-mail that is stored by Microsoft on a server in Ireland. On July 31, 2014, Chief U.S. District Judge Loretta A. Preska of the Southern District of New York ruled that the government can use a search warrant issued under the Stored Communications Act to gain access to digital information within the control of a U.S.-based internet service provider but stored on a foreign server.

On appeal the Second Circuit, the NAM filed an amicus brief. We are troubled by the government's demands to seize such personal emails without following the proper legal procedures. The government’s position in this case is that prosecutors are free to ignore the laws of other nations and require production of data of non-U.S citizens.

On July 14, 2016, the Second Circuit ruled that the Stored Communications Act does not authorize courts to enforce the warrant. Instead the government should follow the Mutual Legal Assistance Treat adopted by Ireland the United States in 2001.

A different result would have had an immediate chilling effect on the ability of U.S. companies to compete internationally. Asserting extraterritorial reach with a U.S. warrant violates fundamental principles of international comity and the plain language of U.S. law.

The Supreme Court agreed on Oct. 16, 2017, to hear the appeal of this decision.

Related Documents:
NAM brief  (December 15, 2014)


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