Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) received a court order to submit to the United States government the emails and other account information of its users stored in a data center located in Ireland, according to report from Reuters.
U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska issued the court order after a two-hour hearing in New York in connection with a case that raised concern from privacy groups and major technology companies.
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Microsoft contested search warrant
According to Judge Preska, the federal magistrate judge issued a search warrant that required the company to submit any data obtained regardless of the location of the data center where it was stored.
Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) contested the search warrant. The tech companies argued that the search warrant improperly extended the authority of federal prosecutors to seize the information of users stored in other countries. It appears that it is the first time for a company to challenge the search warrant seeking to obtain data held overseas.
In her ruling, Judge Preska emphasized, “It is a question of control, not a question of the location of that information.” According to her, she will suspend her order in the meantime to give Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) opportunity to appeal to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Several tech companies supported Microsoft
Some technology companies supported Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) in challenging the search warrant including Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T), Cisco Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:CSCO) and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ).
The tech companies filed court briefs stating their concerns that they could lose billions of dollars in revenue to foreign competitors if customers fear that the U.S. government could seize their personal information anywhere around the world.
The technology companies also argued that search warrants issued the United States government cannot be executed in other countries under the law.
On the other hand, the lawyers for the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) emphasized that the search warrant only required Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) to submit the data under its control. According to them, it is similar to the case when U.S. banks are compelled to turnover their transaction records in other countries.