Court Exempts Data Held Overseas from Government Warrants

A federal appeals court recently ruled that the U.S. government cannot compel companies to turn over data stored overseas. Andrea Peterson of The Washington Post writes that the case centered on a warrant from the U.S government to Microsoft. The warrant compelled the company to turn over customer emails related to a narcotics case that were stored in a data center in Ireland.

According to Peterson, Judge Susan Carney held that “the federal Stored Communications Act only applies to data stored in the United States.”

This ruling is a large win for privacy advocates. Respecting the privacy and security of customer data is a crucial aspect in allowing technology to advance in a free society.

While this ruling could prompt more U.S. companies to store data overseas to avoid government interference, Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith argued that “the decision is important for three reasons: it ensures that people’s privacy rights are protected by the laws of their own countries; it helps ensure that the legal protections of the physical world apply in the digital domain; and it paves the way for better solutions to address both privacy and law enforcement needs.”

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