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Microsoft Files Objection to Warrant for E-Mail Stored Abroad

Microsoft is protesting a U.S. search warrant to turn over an e-mail stored in its Dublin datacenter, claiming it is in violation of international law.

Microsoft filed an objection in the U.S. Southern New York Court last Friday. In it, the company said if the warrant to turn over the e-mail stored abroad were upheld, it "would violate international law and treaties, and reduce the privacy protection of everyone on the planet."

A federal judge granted the search warrant in New York back in December as part of a criminal inquiry. The customer's identity and country of origin are not known.

According to a New York Times report on Wednesday, Microsoft's appeal may be the first time a major company has challenged a domestic search warrant for digital information overseas. Privacy groups and other IT providers are concerned over the outcome of this case, according to the report, noting it has international repercussions. Foreign governments are already concerned that their citizens' data are not adequately protected.

Search warrants seeking data oversees are rare, according to NYT, but granting one could pave the way for future cases, as well as fuel international conflicts at a time when foreign governments are already unnerved by U.S. surveillance activities.

The case could put pressure for revisions to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986, which was created before international electronic communications over the Internet were common.

The NYT report said the case could go on for some time, with oral arguments scheduled for July 31.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.

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