US court orders Microsoft to release data stored in Dublin data centre

29 Apr 2014

Microsoft has been ordered by a district court in the US to hand over the emails and personal information of a customer under investigation even though the data is held at the software giant’s data centre in Dublin.

Microsoft in the past was able to deny such requests for data stored outside the US.

However, it is understood that Judge James Francis of the US District Court of the Southern District of New York has ruled that warrants for online data are not dissimilar to offline data requests.

According to tech news site Neowin, Microsoft will have to provide the data such as account holder’s name, credit card details and email messages.

However, in a blog post Microsoft said it will challenge such orders.

“The US government doesn’t have the power to search a home in another country, nor should it have the power to search the content of email stored overseas,” said Microsoft’s deputy general counsel David Howard.

“To protect this principle, we filed a formal legal challenge months ago to a US search warrant seeking customer email content that is located exclusively outside the United States. Today we received an initial decision that maintains the status quo but is a necessary step in our effort to make sure that governments follow the letter of the law when they seek our customers’ private data in the future.

“When we filed this challenge we knew the path would need to start with a magistrate judge, and that we’d eventually have the opportunity to bring the issue to a U.S. district court judge and probably to a federal court of appeals.

“Today the Magistrate Judge, who originally issued the warrant in question, disagreed with our view and rejected our challenge. This is the first step toward getting this issue in front of courts that have the authority to correct the government’s longstanding views on the application of search warrants to content stored digitally outside the United States,” Howard said.

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