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#Public Sector

Judge: Microsoft must handover data stored overseas to US authorities

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A US court on Thursday rejected Microsoft’s plea to dismiss US prosecutors’ warrant to handover email data from an overseas server.

Judge Loretta A. Preska of the United States District Court, after a 2-hour long hearing, ruled that Microsoft must lawfully handover the customer’s email data to the US law enforcement authorities.

Preska said that the data is controlled by a US company, so it does not really matter where it is held, noting that the matter concerns only control and not location.

The judge however said that the order will temporarily be suspended for some time from taking effect to allow the Redmond to appeal to the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals.

Microsoft and other US companies had challenged a search warrant brought in by US authorities which required the Redmond to handover email information, held outside of the US in the Ireland data center, arguing that customer information held in foreign countries cannot be accessed by federal prosecutors.

The case, which is being closely watched by privacy groups and major technology companies, is among the first to challenge a US search warrant seeking user email data held abroad.

AT&T Inc, Apple Inc, Cisco Systems Inc and Verizon Communications Inc all are some of the other tech firms to submit court briefs in support of Microsoft. The companies fear that they could end up losing billions of dollars in revenue to foreign competitors if customers feel their data is not safe with them as their data is subject to seizure by US investigators anywhere in the world.

Disappointed by the ruling, Microsoft’s general counsel, Brad Smith, in a statement, said that the company would file an appeal.