The US Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit recently ruled on the highly-anticipated ‘Microsoft Ireland’ case.

 

In a unanimous ruling, the three-judge panel found in favour of Microsoft, which was challenging a warrant for the search and seizure of data held on an Irish server.

 

In 2013, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York issued the US Department of Justice a warrant under the Stored Communications Act (SCA). The Department of Justice believed that an email account hosted by Microsoft contained important information about a narcotics investigation. Microsoft provided relevant information held on US servers, but refused to produce the emails held in Ireland.

 

In its ruling, the Court of Appeals held that communications stored outside the US by American companies are beyond the reach of domestic search warrants. The Court noted that the SCA contains no mention of extraterritorial application. The ruling points out that when the law was enacted in 1986, cloud computing and the World Wide Web did not exist.

 

This ruling may not be the end of the Microsoft Ireland saga, however. The Department of Justice may appeal the case to the Supreme Court. The Department of Justice could also seek to obtain the emails through the Mutual Legal Assistance it has with Ireland, although EU privacy laws may limit the success of this approach.

 

The full decision can be found here.

 

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