US court denies DoJ attempts to access Microsoft’s overseas data, again

MICROSOFT’S ONGOING BATTLE to stop the US authorities from marching into overseas data centres with cyber wheelbarrows and coming out laden has taken another thresh around in the bottom of the basket.  The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has long wanted to get into the Aladdin’s cave of overseas data but has always been turned away by Microsoft. Always in very strongly worded, fist in the air, pro-privacy declarations.

Like a dog that thinks you might have half of a ham sandwich in your pocket – it happens – the DoJ just won’t stop sniffing and fussing, despite all the gentle nudges away.

Microsoft has been fighting this attention since 2013. It does not want the DoJ to access information about a suspected drug gang. Well not that explicitly, it does not want to hand over personal data willy-nilly. And it is sticking to that.

PCWorld reports on the findings of the US appeals court, explaining that the judges could see how the law might have a problem with tech companies storing their data out of reach, but adding that ultimately the law is the law and that a previous decision that found all of this can still stand.

“We recognise at the same time that in many ways the SCA (the U.S. Stored Communications Act) has been left behind by technology,” Judge Susan Carney wrote in Tuesday’s decision.

“It is overdue for a congressional revision that would continue to protect privacy but would more effectively balance concerns of international comity with law enforcement needs and service provider obligations in the global context in which this case arose.”

Brad Smith is Microsoft’s president and chief legal officer and we expect that it will be him who rises up to comment on what a momentous win this is. He has not done so yet, but it is still early in the morning and he may still be pacing around in his dressing down to the Rocky theme.


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