Microsoft in contempt of court for not handing over Dublin email details

Legal hammer on keyboard

Microsoft has been found in contempt of court for refusing to hand over email details currently stored in a Dublin datacentre to the US authorities.

A US court has insisted the firm hand over customer emails stored in Ireland, but Microsoft has refused, arguing that these emails are held outside of the US and not subject to its jurisdiction. The firm was ordered at the end of July to hand over the details.

"Microsoft believes you own your email no matter where it is stored. That's why we've gone to court to ask the US government to follow long-established, internationally agreed upon processes to obtain email it is seeking as evidence in a case involving a customer account in Ireland", said the firm on its Digital Constitution website.

It added that a New York district judge today issued an order paving the way for Microsoft to pursue its case against the US government on appeal.

"While the order today holds the company in contempt for not complying with the court's previous ruling to turn over the emails in question, it does not impose any sanctions while the case proceeds to the appellate court, as agreed to by the parties," it said.

The authorities have been trying to get hold of emails relating to a drugs investigation, but neither the target of the investigation nor their location have been revealed as court papers on this are still sealed.

Microsoft said the warrant violates the firm's right to be protected from unlawful searches and seizures and this is guaranteed under the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution.

"The US has entered into many bilateral agreements establishing specific procedures for obtaining physical evidence in another country including a recently-updated agreement with Ireland," Microsoft said in a blog post.

"We think the same procedures should apply in the online world."

IT Pro contacted Microsoft for further comment on the case, but at the time of publication had not received a reply.

Rene Millman

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.