PCMag reports that Microsoft rejects handing over emails stored overseas in Ireland. A New York judge ordered the email data to be handed over to the US government, while the data is stored in Ireland. The emails were requested by the US government this summer. Judge Preska approved this request in a ruling in late July. However, the green light for the government to go ahead and get the emails off the Microsoft servers in Ireland was only given last Friday. The reason for this was to allow Microsoft time to appeal the ruling.
The reason Microsoft refuses to hand over the emails is privacy. This is noted by Microsoft chief privacy officer Brendon Lynch in a blog article from August 27th. A quote from the article:
So far the courts have sided with the U.S. government, but we are appealing the latest decision. This case could have important implications outside the U.S. Other governments could demand emails held in datacenters outside their jurisdiction. In fact, earlier this month the British government passed a law asserting its right to require tech companies to produce emails stored anywhere in the world. This would include emails stored in the U.S. by Americans who have never been to the UK.
Brendo points to Microsoft’s Digital Constitution website which shows a timeline of events, posts and surveys about the situation and how Microsoft is responding to the situation.
Microsoft is not alone in its stance on privacy online: other large technology corporations including Cisco and Apple support the company’s vision. This can be found on the ‘what others are saying‘ page on the Digital Constitution website.
Modern technology can be both a blessing and a curse for people and corporations. While it enables to communicate with everyoen everywhere, and find all the information on any subject, however obscure, it also poses security and privacy issues. While some laws and regulations have been updated over the years, legislation in general is lagging behind technology developments.
In the case of Microsoft’s refusal to hand over the emails, I believe Microsoft has a strong point when it comes to trust. If trust in a company is lost by its customers, can it ever be rewon when it comes to online services like email?