Microsoft must hand over overseas data, US court rules


Microsoft has lost another bid to have a US government warrant demanding access to emails stored in its Dublin-based datacentre overturned.

The company has been ordered to hand over the emails to law enforcers in the US as part of a criminal investigation, the details of which have not been disclosed at this time.

US district judge Loretta Preska has ruled that Microsoft must hand over the data, even though it's stored in a country outside of US jurisdiction.

However, Preska has put a delay on when the order comes into effect to give Microsoft time to lodge an appeal with the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals.

The software giant has been locked in a legal battle in the US on the matter since December 2013, and has vowed to appeal against the latest ruling.

In a blog post, Brad Smith, executive vice president and general counsel for Microsoft, said: "The only issue that was certain... was that the District Court's decision would not represent the final step in this process.

"We will appeal promptly and continue to advocate that people's email deserves strong privacy protection in the US and around the world," Smith concluded.

This isn't the first time Microsoft has challenged the ruling, after New York judge James Francis declared in April 2014 that the investigative powers of law enforcers would be "seriously impeded" if they were unable to access data stored overseas, considered out of their jurisdiction.

The outcome of the case has far-reaching implications for the technology industry, and Microsoft's unerring stance on the matter has won the backing of Apple, Cisco, Verizon and others.

If Microsoft loses its appeal, other tech firms could be forced to hand over customer data stored overseas.

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.