Microsoft will not hand over overseas email, despite order

NEW YORK Fri Aug 29, 2014 8:20pm EDT

A shadow of a man using his mobile phone is cast near Microsoft logo at the 2014 Computex exhibition in Taipei June 4, 2014. REUTERS/Pichi Chuang

A shadow of a man using his mobile phone is cast near Microsoft logo at the 2014 Computex exhibition in Taipei June 4, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Pichi Chuang

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - A judge on Friday lifted a suspension on her order directing Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) to turn over a customer's emails stored overseas to U.S. prosecutors, but the software company said it would not release any emails while it appeals the ruling.

Chief Judge Loretta Preska of the U.S. District Court in Manhattan had on July 31 upheld a magistrate judge's ruling on the emails, which have been held in a data center in Ireland.

That prospect had drawn concern from technology companies - fearful of losing revenue from foreign customers worried that U.S. law enforcement might win broad power to seize their data.

Microsoft in particular was stung by revelations last year by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden and has been at pains to prove to customers that it does not allow the U.S. government unchallenged access to personal data on its servers.

Preska had delayed enforcement of the government's search warrant so Microsoft could appeal.

But prosecutors later said that because her order was not a "final, appealable order" and because Microsoft had yet to be held in contempt, there was no legal reason to enforce the stay.

Preska agreed, saying her order "merely confirmed the government's temporary forbearing of its right to stay enforcement of the order it secured."

She added that "the fact the court has not closed this case cuts against Microsoft's argument" that her order was final and appealable.

The judge ordered both sides to advise by Sept. 5 how to proceed.

However, Microsoft is still refusing to comply with the judge's order, pending attempts to overturn it.

"Microsoft will not be turning over the email and plans to appeal,” a Microsoft spokesperson told Reuters. "Everyone agrees this case can and will proceed to the appeals court. This is simply about finding the appropriate procedure for that to happen."

The case appeared to be the first in which a corporation has challenged a U.S. search warrant seeking data held abroad.

AT&T Inc (T.N), Apple Inc (AAPL.O), Cisco Systems Inc (CSCO.O) and Verizon Communications Inc (VZ.N) submitted briefs supporting Microsoft's opposition to the warrant.

The case is In re: A Warrant to Search a Certain E-Mail Account Controlled and Maintained by Microsoft Corp, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 13-mj-02814.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York, additional reporting by Bill Rigby in Seattle; Editing by Bernard Orr)

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Comments (5)
NPeril wrote:
Ah come on, Bill; give it up!

The White House already has access to the emails in question (thanks to NSA), but the President needs to set-in-motion the working theory that the Executive Branch remains sole Proprietor, unrestricted in authority and capable of treating Congress, the Supreme Court, State/Local Governments, Corporate America, private citizens as chattel. You, above all others, should recognize the handiwork seeing that Microsoft was instrumental in building the Federal Government’s electronic oversight infrastructures.

Microsoft’s compliance in this matter is necessary to subtlety undermine or openly crush any current or future opposition to the Office of the President, United States.

Unless, Microsoft’s reluctance to the Court Order is mere theatrics for global/national benefit and to provide the company with deniability or legal responsibility; what guarantees protects Microsoft or any other corporation from future seizure under the term of State Industries by Federal Authorities if Martial Law is declared? Will $$$ protect Corporate Owners/families? How strange to say the words ‘Martial Law’. But in hindsight few thought that the words ‘Civil War’ would become part of America’s consciousness. Or that in many countries private industry and their owners would disappear during WW II?

So now; maybe the Prince has become King and the Regent fears for his life?

Aug 29, 2014 9:50pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
NPeril wrote:
Well now; Mr. Stempel, Mr. Rigby and Mr. Orr; how long have you three been working for Microsoft?

Aug 30, 2014 2:13am EDT  --  Report as abuse
NPeril wrote:
Mr. Stempel, Mr. Rigby and Mr. Orr: Thank you for posting the test question. Now, how objective are your Journalistic skills? Post Attempt #2 –

Ah come on, Bill; give it up!

The White House already has access to the emails in question (thanks to NSA), but the President needs to set-in-motion the working theory that the Executive Branch remains sole Proprietor, unrestricted in authority and capable of treating Congress, the Supreme Court, State/Local Governments, Corporate America, private citizens as chattel. You, above all others, should recognize the handiwork seeing that Microsoft was instrumental in building the Federal Government’s electronic oversight infrastructures.

Is Microsoft’s compliance in this matter necessary to subtlety undermine or openly crush any current or future opposition to the Office of the President, United States?

So now; maybe the Prince has become King and the Regent fears for his life?

Aug 30, 2014 8:08am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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