US Supreme Court rejects Guantanamo detainee's appeal

Microsoft Email-Access Fight With US Gets Supreme Court Review

In 2016, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Microsoft, asserting that a 1986 law, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), was not meant to grant law enforcement access to internationally-stored data. Microsoft will go head-to-head with the Justice Department, arguing that the agency can not use a warrant to collect emails held in Microsoft's Ireland data center.

The current state of the law doesn't mean that USA law enforcement has no access to data stored on foreign servers. It said if forced to do so, it would lead to claims from other countries about data stored here.

At issue is whether the emails are beyond the reach of domestic search warrants issued under the Stored Communications Act, the Washington Post, the New York Times, Bloomberg News and the National Law Journal (sub. req.) report. The full circuit then split evenly on whether that decision was correct. The government contends a US -based company that receives a subpoena must turn over materials within its control, even if the materials are stored overseas.

Microsoft released all of the information stored in the United States, but refused to do the same for emails hosted in Ireland.

"The government was right to appeal to Congress for the same reason it is wrong to ask this court to intervene now: Under this court's settled extraterritoriality doctrine, revising a federal statute to account for the globalization of data is a job for Congress, not courts", the company wrote.

The case attracted significant attention from technology and media companies concerned that a ruling favoring the government could jeopardize the privacy of customers and make them less likely to use cloud services because of concern that data could be seized.

The lower court said a 1986 law that protects the privacy of electronic communications - and carves out an exception for law enforcement needs - doesn't extend to data kept in other countries.

The Justice Department filed a motion to take the case to the Supreme Court in June.

The U.S. government had sought the emails in a drug trafficking investigation.

In the appeals court, Microsoft was supported by dozens of technology and media companies including Amazon, Apple, CNN and Verizon Communications, as well as the American Civil Liberties Union and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce business group.

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