A US judge has ruled that Microsoft must hand over data about a customer’s email account — including their name, credit card information and the content of their emails — despite the fact that the data is held on a server in Ireland. The ruling follows the issuing of a search warrant by US authorities, and Microsoft had initially tried to avoid complying.
The company’s argument was that because the data was hosted on a server outside of the US, the search warrant should not apply. However, the ruling judge, Judge James Francis, said that warrants relating to online data are different to regular search warrants.
Judge Francis said that the warrant was government by the Stored Communications Act under federal law and should be viewed more like a subpoeana — in such cases, it does not matter where anyone issued with a subpoeana is in the world, they are obliged to comply.
Microsoft disagrees with the ruling and issued a statement to Reuters. Pointing out that “a US prosecutor cannot obtain a US warrant to search someone’s home located in another country”, Microsoft’s statement says that “we think the same rules should apply in the online world, but the government disagrees”.
The company is hoping that the ruling will be overturned when the case is reviewed by another judge.