Microsoft will appeal ruling on US access to emails here
Published 01/08/2014 | 02:30
MICROSOFT is to appeal yesterday's ruling that the US government is allowed access to emails stored in Ireland.
It is very possible that the case will go all the way to the US Supreme Court.
The US Government, in court yesterday, claimed that Microsoft had cited no laws in Ireland that would forbid the company handing over information stored in Ireland.
This was despite an affidavit from former Justice Minister Michael McDowell.
Hanni Fakhoury, a lawyer with the privacy advocates Electronic Frontier Foundation, which supports Microsoft, said earlier this week that the Irish Government should make its voice heard in connection with the case.
A US judge ruled that law enforcement authorities can make Microsoft turn over emails it stores in Ireland.
A raft of technology companies have rallied around the case as US officials pursue billions of dollars in data storage business.
In a strongly worded affidavit in support of the technology company, Mr McDowell argued that the disclosure of data is only lawful if it is signed off by a judge in Ireland.
US District Judge Loretta A Preska in New York yesterday said she agreed with the findings of a magistrate judge who approved a sealed search warrant in December for a consumer email account that Microsoft stores in Dublin.
US investigators were seeking the information as part of a drugs investigation.
Ms Preska said it was a question of who controlled the data, rather than where it was stored.
The information could be produced by Microsoft in the United States without intruding on the foreign sovereignty of Ireland, she added.
A court or law enforcement agency in the United States is empowered to order a person or entity to produce materials, even if the information or person possessing the information is outside the US, she said.
The company has said rulings forcing it to turn over emails threatens to rewrite the Constitution's protections against illegal search and seizure and could damage US foreign relations.
Its arguments were joined by large technology companies, including Apple Inc, Cisco Systems Inc, Verizon Communications Inc and AT&T Inc.
The judge placed a stay the on the ruling to give the company time to appeal.
Brad Smith, Microsoft's general counsel and executive vice president, said in a statement that the ruling was not the final word.
"We will appeal promptly and continue to advocate that people's email deserves strong privacy protection in the US and around the world," he said.
Microsoft's legal team had argued unsuccessfully that the search warrant amounted to the extension of US law enforcement authority to another country.
He said that the ruling also increased the likelihood that other countries would try to access information in the United States.