A judge from New York ruled against Microsoft's appeal that attempted to block a search warrant issued for emails stored on its server from Ireland. This is the second appeal the IT company has lost in its endeavor to stop the US Government from gaining access to private emails that are stored in international data centers.
After a two-hour long hearing in which the advocates from both sides disputed the reach of the Stored Communications Act (SCA), judge Loretta Preska stood by the previous ruling made by lower-level courts. However, the District Court judge in Manhattan did allow Microsoft to appeal her decision, and according to statements made by its officials, the IT company's intent is to do exactly that.
Although the e-mails at the core of this case are part of an official criminal investigation related to drug trafficking, Microsoft believes the emails stored on clouds should "be treated" the same way the regular mail (paper letters) does. This would mean that the government cannot issue warrants that reach beyond the borders of the United States. The IT giant went on to say that US officials would surely have a problem if foreign governments had access to emails stored in America, yet they have no problem in requesting the data kept in the Belfast data center.
After the ruling, Microsoft's general counsel Brad Smith stated: "The only issue that was certain this morning was that the district court’s decision would not represent the final step in this process. [..] We will appeal promptly and continue to advocate that people’s e-mail deserves strong privacy protection in the U.S. and around the world."
Other big companies like Apple and Cisco have made their support for Microsoft public, saying the US government's actions will not only put their employees at risk of legal consequences from foreign countries, but will also cause customers to lose confidence in providers from the United States.