Microsoft refuses to comply after judge revives overseas data search warrant

Summary:A US judge has lifted a stay on a ruling, forcing Microsoft to hand over data it stores overseas. But the software giant said it will not comply, pending an appeal.

A US judge has lifted a stay on an order that will force Microsoft to hand over data it stores overseas.

US District Judge Loretta Preska on Friday issued an order lifting a stay on her previous order that Microsoft comply with a federal warrant seeking a customer's email held by the company on servers in Ireland.

But on Saturday, Microsoft confirmed that it would not comply with the order, potentially landing the company in contempt of court. 

As Reuters reported, the software giant said it "plans to appeal," pending efforts to have the order overturned by an appeals court.

Microsoft has publicly committed to fighting the warrant in order to protect their customers. The company argues that customer email deserves the same legal protections that US mail and the contents of telephone conversations currently have. In this case, the warrant was issued under the Stored Communications Act (SCA) using a less-stringent standard.

The case remains of the highest importance to some companies in the US technology industry scene.

Other major tech giants lent a hand in the second stab at the case. Verizon submitted an amicus brief in Microsoft's support, concerned that its overseas data could also be at risk. Apple, AT&T, and Cisco also threw their weight behind the software giant.

Microsoft, Verizon, and Cisco all suffered as a result of the US National Security Agency's actions leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden. 

According to Preska's order, both Microsoft and the federal government expressed a desire to the District Court that the case be heard on appeal to the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals as soon as possible.

But the government and Microsoft disagree on the next step to the appeal.

The government says that the order is not appealable at this stage, and Preska agrees. The Friday order says that the contempt order would be subject to appellate review. This disagreement over the path to appeal is, says the order, "the subject of hot dispute."

The details of the case under which the government seeks the data have not been revealed.

Topics: Government : US, Privacy


Larry Seltzer has long been a recognized expert in technology, with a focus on mobile technology and security in recent years. He was most recently Editorial Director of BYTE, Dark Reading and Network Computing at UBM Tech. Prior to that he spent over a decade consulting and writing on technology subjects, primarily in the area of sec... Full Bio


Zack Whittaker is a writer-editor for ZDNet, and sister sites CNET and CBS News. He is based in the New York newsroom. His PGP key is: EB6CEEA5.

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