Microsoft says public and industry support its defence of cloud data

20 Nov 2014

Microsoft, which is embroiled in a major legal battle with the US government over access to data stored in its European Cloud Data Centre in Dublin, says the public and industry in Ireland back its stance.

The software giant appears to be attempting to enlist the support of the Irish Government in its fight against US authorities.

In recent months, Ireland has found itself in No Man’s Land amidst a post-Edward Snowden battle between Microsoft and US authorities over whether data stored in data centres outside the US can be subject to search warrants.

Microsoft is currently challenging a US court-ordered warrant for data stored in its European Data Centre in west Dublin.

In May, Microsoft successfully challenged a FBI user information request because the company claimed it violated the user’s right to privacy under the US Constitution.

The case related to a drug trafficking investigation and stemmed from a warrant a judge issued in December.

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“We believe our customers own their emails no matter where they live, and their digital communications deserve the same legal protections as physical letters,” said Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith.

“The US government does an important job in protecting its people, but there must be balance between fighting crime and honouring the privacy rights of people around the world.”

A survey commissioned by Microsoft and carried out by Amárach Consulting found the majority of people in Ireland believe data stored online should enjoy strong privacy protections.

The survey found 87pc believe in privacy parity for physical and digital information.

And 89pc agree a company operating in Ireland should be subject to Irish law and not to the law of the land where the company’s headquarters is located.

“This case has important implications for Ireland and Europe,” Microsoft managing director Cathriona Hallahan said.

“The Irish public and Irish industry strongly support the principles Microsoft is advancing in this case. Minister for Data Protection Dara Murphy is fully engaged on these issues, and we would ask the Irish Government to continue to provide its full support to protect Irish law, Irish citizens and Irish industry.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years