Personal Details Given To Microsoft OZ Could End Up In The Hands Of US Government
As US judge has ordered that Microsoft must turn over a customer’s emails stored in a data centre in Ireland to the US government. The decision means that the information of Australians that have been given to a US technology Company such as Microsoft is now open slater for the US federal Government.
Microsoft Australia stores local data on their Irish servers.
Privacy groups and major technology companies are angry over the decision claiming that it is an intrusion of privacy. It could also make obsolete conditions set out in technology Companies privacy policies.
Microsoft and several other US companies had challenged a criminal search warrant for the emails, arguing federal prosecutors cannot seize customer information held in foreign countries such as Australia.
But following a two-hour court hearing in New York, US District Judge Loretta Preska said the warrant lawfully 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,” Preska said.
The judge said she would temporarily suspend her order from taking effect to allow Microsoft to appeal to the second US Circuit Court of Appeals.
The case appears to be the first in which a corporation has challenged a US search warrant seeking data held abroad.
It comes amid a debate over privacy and technology that erupted last year when former US National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden revealed the government’s efforts to collect huge amounts of consumer data around the world.
Apple and Cisco all submitted court briefs in support of Microsoft, along with the privacy group Electronic Frontier Foundation.
The companies are worried they could lose billions of dollars in revenue to foreign competitors if customers fear their data is subject to seizure by US investigators anywhere in the world.
In a statement, Microsoft’s general counsel, Brad Smith, said the company would appeal.
“The only issue that was certain this morning was that the district court’s decision would not represent the final step in this process,” he said.
Thursday’s ruling concerned a warrant New York prosecutors served on Microsoft for an individual’s emails stored in Dublin, Ireland. A magistrate judge in April ruled the warrant was valid.
It is unclear what type of investigation led to the warrant, which remains under seal.
US companies say they have been hurt by fears about government intrusion: companies such as Cisco, Qualcomm, IBM, Microsoft, and HP reported declines in China sales since the Snowden leaks.