Microsoft is back in court today over US government access to customer emails stored in its Dublin, Ireland, data center.
The battle with US law enforcement officials in a district court is the next step in the process that started last year, when a magistrate judge ordered the company to turn over the data. Microsoft said at the time that the magistrate judge’s ruling was an expected and necessary step in the fight to make sure the case doesn’t set precedent that would make it common for US authorities’ jurisdiction over US companies to extend to data they store overseas.
The emails in question reportedly belong to a person suspected of drug trafficking.
Microsoft is enjoying support from a number of large US tech companies and civil liberties groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, according to news reports. ACLU papers supporting the company were filed in the appeal, Bloomberg reported.
The case is being viewed as a landmark one, which will decide whether or not a US company with data centers overseas is legally obligated to comply with law-enforcement requests for access to data stored in those facilities on foreign land, which are also governed by data privacy laws in the countries they are located in.
There are international treaties in place for cases like this, requiring the US government to cooperate with foreign governments to ensure it receives the information it seeks in ways that are compliant with the foreign laws. But the US argues that the process would take too long, according to a report by the BBC.
Irish authorities said they would expedite the process had the US made such a request.
Companies like Microsoft, which serve customers around the world from globally distributed data center infrastructure, view requests for customer data stored overseas by the US or any other government as erosive to customer trust in their services and therefore bad for business.