US Justice Department wants to take Microsoft to Supreme Court in offshore email case

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Microsoft values privacy, even while facing the wrath of the Department of Justice. Recently, the DoJ has been pushing on the tech giant, claiming that the recent rulings in its favor are severely misinterpreting the law. Now, CNN reports that the Department of Justice will be approaching the Supreme Court about Microsoft’s refusal to provide private information from other jurisdictions.

The case that brought the legislative debate about originated when the federal government wanted information about a potential drug trafficking case. Law enforcement sought Microsoft out for private emails and information stored on its database servers in Ireland. The courts first found that Microsoft should hand over the information, but after appealing to the Second Circuit, it was reversed. After all, if Microsoft gave the U.S. government information stored in Ireland, what was stopping other governments from requesting U.S. information?

The Department of Justice didn’t take too kindly to the ruling, now appealing to the Supreme Court for clarification. It believes that if information can be accessed “domestically with the click of a computer mouse”, then the information is fair game for the U.S. government.

Brad Smith countered the DoJ claiming that it seemed ‘backward’ to continue the debate in courts. “The DOJ’s position would put businesses in impossible conflict-of-law situations and hurt the security, jobs, and personal rights of Americans,” he explained in Friday’s blog post.

In less than one year, a new European data protection law will go into effect. Under that law – called the General Data Protection Regulation – it would be illegal for a company to bring customer data from Europe into the U.S. in response to a unilateral U.S. search warrant.

This isn’t the first time Microsoft’s integrity was called into question regarding transnational information. An employee was criminally charged and the company fined for not complying with a request between the differing laws Brazil and the U.S. Smith believes that no matter who ‘wins’ the case with the Supreme Court, that the new legislation is still a much needed addition.