Does US Govt. have the Right to Our Data on Foreign Servers?

Posted Tuesday, June 27, 2017 in Online, Mobile & IT by Scott Jordan

Here's an interesting and timely article in Ars Technica posted by David Kravets about the battle between Microsoft and the US government over customers' emails and whether or not the US government has the right to surveil emails that are housed in Microsoft's Irish datacenters.

Does US have right to data on overseas servers? We’re about to find out

Supreme Court case has ramifications for tech sector, foreign relations, and privacy.

David Kravets -6/24/2017, 4:26 AM

The Justice Departmenton Friday petitioned the US Supreme Court to step into an international legal thicket, one that asks whether US search warrants extend to data stored on foreign servers. The US government says it has the legal right, with a valid court warrant, to reach into the world's servers with the assistance of the tech sector, no matter where the data is stored.

The request for Supreme Court intervention concerns a 4-year-old legal battle between Microsoft and the US government over data stored on Dublin, Ireland servers. The US government has a valid warrant for the e-mail as part of a drug investigation. Microsoft balked at the warrant, and convinced a federal appeals court that US law does not apply to foreign data.

The governmenton Fridaytold the justices that US law allows it to get overseas data, and national security was at risk.

"This Court should grant review to restore the government’s ability to require providers to disclose electronic communications—which are, in this day and age, often the only or the most critical evidence of terrorism and crime," the government wrote. (PDF)

The outcome has huge privacy ramifications for consumers and for the tech sector, which is caught between a rock and a hard place. The sector is being asked by the US government to comply with court orders that sometimes conflict with the laws of where the data is stored.

To remedy that, Congress is trying to hash out legislation that would allow the US government to enter into reciprocity agreements with other countries so that each side has the right to access data on foreign servers—with a valid warrant.

To read the full article, go to Ars Technica

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