Supreme Court Takes Privacy Case Affecting Data Stored Overseas

Oct 17, 2017

The Supreme Court will decide a case that tests how far prosecutors can go in demanding information stored on computers overseas. The case stems from a 2013 investigation into drug trafficking. Microsoft turned over emails that were stored on servers in the United States. But the company refused to turn over emails kept on servers in Ireland. The District trial court ruled in favor of the government. An appeals court reversed the decision and upheld the “privacy interests of users.” The government is arguing that law enforcement is at a disadvantage after the appellate court ruling. “Under this opinion, hundreds if not thousands of investigations of crimes—ranging from terrorism to child pornography, to fraud—are being or will be hampered by the government’s inability to obtain electronic evidence,” argued government lawyers. Microsoft is arguing that the courts should not do a run around Congress. It is Congress that needs to modernize the law and create a framework whereby law enforcement can obtain electronic data when it is abroad.