25 December 2014

Here is an Interesting Jurisdictional Conundrum

The Department of Justice has subpoenaed some Microsoft emails, and the Redmond Borg has objected because the emails in question are on a server in Ireland:
The Irish government today supported Microsoft in its ongoing fight against US prosecutors – who appear to want access to server hard drives anywhere in the world.

Microsoft has garnered serious backing from the technology industry in its case against American investigators. The Feds believe they have the right to access emails stored on Microsoft's servers in Ireland; Uncle Sam thinks it can lawfully tap up any US company for information, regardless of where that info is stored.

The Feds wants the messages to prosecute a drug case, and obtained a simple search warrant served against Microsoft in New York, rather than approaching the Irish government and its courts for help. If the US govt wins the case, which is being played out in the aforementioned state, it will effectively mean that Microsoft's cloud data stored around the world can be read at will by US g-men.

Now the Irish government has filed an amicus curiae brief [PDF] supporting Microsoft's position. If the US government wants information on servers overseas, it should go through existing treaties rather than just expecting to snatch the bytes with a US-issued search warrant.
This is not a big deal from a procedural standpoint: It really would not take much longer to make existing treaty mechanism, but it is from a business perspective, because, should the DoJ prevail, it will be yet another reason for foreign customers to flee American cloud providers.

The degree to which the US state security apparatus attempts to eschew treaty based in attempt to be bad-ass borders on the pathological.


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