Microsoft on Monday argued that complying with the US court’s order which requires the software giant to hand over customer’s email data stored on a server in Ireland to US prosecutors could “put all of our private digital information at risk.”
A lower court had earlier ruled that the US tech giant must hand over data sought in the probe, no matter where it’s located in the world, dismissing Microsoft’s claims of “extraterritorial” authority.
In its latest submission to the US Second Circuit Court of Appeal in New York, Redmond is claiming that the company will comply with lawful orders from US authorities but it will not comply when the data in question is stored overseas.
Brad Smith, Microsoft’s lead counsel, noted that the firm is a strict supporter of the right to privacy.
“In one important sense, the issues at stake are even bigger than this. The government puts at risk the fundamental privacy rights Americans have valued since the founding of the postal service.”
“This is because it argues that, unlike your letters in the mail, the emails you store in the cloud cease to belong exclusively to you.
“Instead, according to the government, your emails become the business records of a cloud provider.
“Because business records have a lower level of legal protection, the government claims it can use a different and broader legal authority to reach emails stored anywhere in the world.”
Smith questioned what the US government’s reaction would be if the boot was on the other foot, and a foreign nation was trying the same trick on the US.
He further argued that the warrant issued do not apply to the data stored in Ireland, and that the law needs to be reformed.
“We believe in the need to strike a better balance between security and privacy. That’s why we brought this case and why we continue to call on both the Administration and Congress to introduce reforms,” he wrote.
The appeals court has ordered the US authorities to respond by March 9. No hearing date has yet been set.