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Microsoft wins appeal over U.S. government access to emails held overseas

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Jermaine Dusenbery
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Decision has broad implications for tech companies and consumer privacy

A U.S. appeals court has quashed a search warrant that would have required Microsoft to disclose contents of emails stored on a server in Ireland, in a case that has broad ramifications for privacy, diplomatic relations and the ability of American companies to sell web services abroad.

The act, Carney wrote, does not authorize courts to issue and enforce against U.S.‐based service providers warrants for the seizure of customer e‐mail content that is stored exclusively on foreign servers.

American tech companies have said they will not be able to sell web-based applications and services abroad if they can t keep U.S. officials from unilaterally seizing records stored in foreign countries.

This is a big case—the technology companies have a very good point, said Robert Cattanach, a partner at the international law firm Dorsey & Whitney, noting that Europe is looking more carefully than ever at international data transfer rules.

In October last year, the Court of Justice of the European Union declared invalid a safe harbor agreement, on which thousands of companies including Google, Facebook, and Apple rely for the transatlantic transfer of personal data.

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Jermaine Dusenbery
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