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Tech Firms Back Microsoft on Protecting Data Outside US

Image: Tech Firms Back Microsoft on Protecting Data Outside US
(Stephen Brashear/Getty Images, file)

By    |   Wednesday, 17 Dec 2014 06:57 AM

Tech firms and civil liberties groups have backed Microsoft during a federal appeal seeking to stop the U.S. government from using a domestic warrant to obtain customer data stored abroad.

According to NBC News, Fox News, National Public Radio, ACLU, CNN, Verizon, Apple, Amazon, HP, eBay, and nearly 70 other organizations have filed briefs on Microsoft's behalf, arguing that the authority of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act is being abused by being interpreted overly broadly. 

"[W]e have submitted this brief in order to turn back an unlawful overreach by the U.S. government," Verizon wrote in an explanation of one brief.

"The U.S. Supreme Court has reiterated many times that U.S. statutes are presumed not to have extraterritorial application unless Congress 'clearly expressed' its 'affirmative intention' to the contrary."

The case against Microsoft began in December 2013, when government officials obtained a warrant for emails and other data belonging to a Microsoft customer. Some of the data was located on servers in the U.S., and the company handed them over. Other portions of the data, however, resided on servers in Ireland, and Microsoft kept them under lock and key.

"The government has argued that unlike letters sent through regular mail, emails stored in the cloud don’t belong exclusively to the person who sends or receives them. Instead, they become the business records of the cloud provider that stores them. And since business records have a lower legal protection than personal records, the government insists it can use the warrant to obtain them," explained Wired.com.

On the other hand, prosecutors say their warrant does not violate Irish sovereignty because employees of Microsoft based in the U.S. can obtain the emails without setting foot in Ireland.

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Tech firms and civil liberties groups have backed Microsoft during a federal appeal seeking to stop the U.S. government from using a domestic warrant to obtain customer data stored abroad.
tech, firms, back, microsoft
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2014-57-17
Wednesday, 17 Dec 2014 06:57 AM
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