Microsoft Corp was ordered on Thursday by a U.S. government judge to turn over a customer’s email that is stored in a data center in Dublin, Ireland. The case has already drawn concern from privacy groups and major technology companies around the world.
Microsoft and other U.S. companies had challenged the original warrant, arguing it improperly extended the authority of federal prosecutors to seize customer information held in foreign countries.
District Judge Loretta Preska said after the 2 hour hearing in New York, that a search warrant approved by a federal magistrate judge required the company to hand over any data it controlled, regardless of where it was stored. “It is a question of control, not a question of the location of that information,”
The case seem to be the first in which a corporation has challenged a U.S. search warrant seeking data held abroad and the judge said she would temporarily suspend her order from taking effect to allow Microsoft to appeal her decision to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
A number of technology companies came to Microsoft’s assistance and filed court briefs in support, including AT&T Inc, Apple Inc, Cisco Systems Inc and Verizon Communications Inc.
The companies are worried that they could lose billions of dollars in revenue to foreign competitors if customers fear their data is subject to seizure by U.S. investigators anywhere in the world. It is unclear which agency issued the warrant because the warrant and all related documents are sealed.
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