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  • Apple Sides with Microsoft and Others in Data Privacy Fight against the US Government


    Apple was one of the many companies and trade associations to sign amicus briefs in support of Microsoft as the Redmond, Washington company continues an ongoing court battle with the US government over customer data privacy protections. In court, Microsoft announced 28 technology and media companies, 23 trade and advocacy groups and 35 computer scientists signed ten briefs in support of its fight to keep customer emails stored on international servers protected from US government agency warrants. Several prominent tech companies are on the list of signatories including: Amazon, AT&T Cisco, eBay, HP, Rackspace and Verizon along with the US Chamber of Commerce and Electronic Frontier Foundation.

    According to court filings, Microsoft was issued a search warrant relating to a drug investigation last year which asked for the company to hand over consumer data from an Outlook email account located in Ireland. Instead of complying, Microsoft appealed to keep the data private as it resides only on a server in Dublin. As a result, US government agencies don’t have jurisdiction and should be required to go through international channels the company argues. At issue is the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), which allows both federal and local law enforcement agencies to demand digital records such as email correspondence with appropriately served warrants. Microsoft is arguing that Congress didn’t include stipulations in ECPA that would allow the seizures outside the US.

    If the ECPA is interpreted to allow for extraterritorial jurisdiction, this may hurt cloud-based businesses that are located within the US because international customers wouldn’t want to sign up for such services. Furthermore, such a distinction could lead to identical requests from foreign agencies for data owned by US citizens. Previously, a lower court ruled against Microsoft rejecting the warrant as illegal. The company has since taken the argument to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

    We’ll have to wait and see what happens next. As of right now, digital privacy is a hot topic in the tech industry as many companies look to increase transparency over government data requests.

    Source: Microsoft (blog) (PDF) via AppleInsider
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Apple Sides with Microsoft and Others in Data Privacy Fight against the US Government started by Akshay Masand View original post