In Re Matter of a Warrant, F.Supp. (S.D.N.Y. 2014)

On April 25, 2014 James Francis, Magistrate Judge of the Southern District of New York, held that all U.S.-based Internet, email, and on-line storage providers can be forced to hand over overseas data, if so requested by a U.S. government search warrant. The case itself addressed a search warrant issued to Microsoft for a customer’s data stored in Dublin, Ireland.

Microsoft stores e-mail messages sent and received by its users in several locations around the world. Upon a request for search and seizure of the content of all emails and records regarding a Microsoft’s webmail users, Microsoft’s Global Criminal Compliance (GCC) team turned over non-content information stored on U.S. servers (such as the user’s name, country, address book information). Microsoft moved to “quash the warrant to the extent that it directs the production of information stored abroad”, arguing that U.S. courts are not authorized to issue warrants for extraterritorial search and seizure of emails. The court, however, disagreed and denied Microsoft’s motion to quash.

According to the order Microsoft must hand over a user’s emails even if stored on a server in Dublin since warrants seeking online stored content fall under the Stored Communications Act. A search warrant on electronic communications “is not a conventional warrants; rather the order is a hybrid: part search warrant and part subpoena”.  “Even when applied to information that is stored in servers abroad, an SCA Warrant does not violate the presumption against extraterritorial application of American law” with the consequence that service providers can be forced to hand over overseas data.

The full text is available at http://www.nysd…

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