Monday 22 September 2014

Microsoft stands firm on US government emails demand

Published 12/06/2014 | 02:30

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A visitor check his smartphone in front of a Windows display at a Microsoft Corp. news conference ahead of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, on Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

MICROSOFT is opposing a US government demand for a user's emails stored on company computers in Ireland, US media has reported.

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In what could be a landmark case, the world's biggest email company is arguing that such a warrant is not justified by law or the US constitution.

In a court filing, Microsoft said it opposed a search warrant for information on a single user's online emails stored in Microsoft's data centre in west Dublin.

The emails are allegedly connected to a drug-trafficking investigation.

The spat is just the latest example of technology companies' willingness to challenge government information requests following the revelations of US whistleblower Edward Snowden, who revealed for the first time how the US government snoops on citizens and foreigners. US firms fear that foreign individuals and businesses will move to non-American competitors if US officials can continue to read private emails.

Microsoft argues that for data held overseas, the US government should abide by its mutual legal assistance treaties, or MLATs. Those are agreements between the United States and foreign countries that typically require the requesting government to be in compliance with the other government's laws. Irish law requires authorisation from an Irish district court judge to obtain e-mail content from a provider.

Microsoft opened its data centre in Ireland in 2010. The company has about 100 such facilities in 40 countries.

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