The Obama administration on Wednesday will argue to a US appeals court that companies operating in the US must comply with valid warrants for data—even if that data is stored on overseas servers.
Much of the tech sector, from Amazon and Microsoft to Verizon, oppose the US government’s position in the closely watched case. These companies and a slew of others maintain that the enforcement of US law stops at the border. They say the global community is already skittish about trusting US-based tech companies in the wake of the Edward Snowden leaks. So a ruling siding with the Obama administration would fuel that mistrust, conflict with foreign data protection laws, and place the tech sector at risk of foreign government sanctions, the companies said.
The two-year-old dispute before the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in New York concerns e-mail stored on Microsoft’s servers in Dublin, Ireland. As part of a drug investigation, US authorities served Microsoft with a warrant demanding access to e-mail on an overseas Microsoft account. Microsoft balked, writing in a court brief that “The government cannot seek and a court cannot issue a warrant allowing federal agents to break down the doors of Microsoft’s Dublin facility.”