Email providers have to turn over a user’s emails and other data to U.S. law enforcement when issued a search warrant, even if the data is stored overseas, a U.S. judge ruled Friday.
Microsoft must hand over a user’s emails stored on a server in Dublin, Ireland, ruled magistrate judge James Francis of the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York.
In December, Francis authorized the search and seizure of the contents of all emails, records and other information regarding the identification of one of Microsoft’s webmail users.
While Microsoft’s Global Criminal Compliance (GCC) team turned over so-called non-content information stored on U.S. servers, such as the user’s name and country as well as address book information, it refused to hand over the contents of the emails because they were stored on a server in another country.
For this reason the company sought to quash the search warrant, arguing that U.S. courts are not authorized to issue warrants for extraterritorial search and seizure of emails.
Judge Francis, however, disagreed and denied Microsoft’s motion to quash the verdict. […]
Microsoft disagrees with the decision, saidA David Howard, Corporate Vice President & Deputy General Counsel at Microsoft in a blog post
While the law is complicated, the issue is straightforward, he said: “It’s generally accepted that a U.S. search warrant in the physical world can only be used to obtain materials that are within the territory of the United States,” he said, adding that therefore, the U.S. government should not have the power to search the content of email stored overseas.