The Microsoft Warrant Case: Unintended Consequences of the Second Circuit's Ruling

August 3, 2016  |  The Insider: White Collar Defense and Securities Enforcement

In a long-awaited ruling in a case in which the government had served a warrant on Microsoft demanding the production of customer emails, the Second Circuit held in July that Microsoft had no obligation to produce customer emails because they were stored on a server located in Ireland. Some privacy groups cheered the decision, while others cautioned that the opinion’s focus on the location where data is stored could have negative consequences for privacy rights and the internet generally, as it could make user data more easily obtainable when the relevant servers are located in countries that may impose less stringent safeguards than exist in the U.S. Aside from privacy concerns, others warned the opinion could make it harder for law enforcement to investigate criminal activity. For example, Law Professor Orin Kerr wrote in a tweet: “Want to stymie U.S. law enforcement? Store your data in the cloud fragmented over many locations outside U.S.” And, in a concurring opinion, Judge Lynch urged Congress to take action to modernize the law, a call echoed by commentary following the decision. [...]

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