Microsoft Corp. v. United States

Microsoft Corporation v. United States of AmericaIn re Warrant to Search a Certain E-Mail Account Controlled & Maintained by Microsoft CorpMicrosoft email case
Microsoft Corp. v. United States, known on appeal to the U.S.wikipedia
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Stored Communications Act

SCAStored Communications Act of 1986
Microsoft Corp. v. United States, known on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court as United States v. Microsoft Corp., was a data privacy case involving the extraterritoriality of law enforcement seeking electronic data under the 1986 Stored Communications Act, Title II of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 (ECPA), in light of modern computing and Internet technologies such as data centers and cloud storage. As part of the investigation into a drug-trafficking case in December 2013, a United States magistrate judge in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York issued a warrant under the Stored Communications Act of 1986 (SCA) requiring Microsoft to produce all emails and information associated with an account they hosted.
On December 4, 2013, government authorities obtained a SCA warrant from Magistrate Judge Francis in the Southern District of New York's case In re Warrant to Search a Certain E-Mail Account Controlled & Maintained by Microsoft Corp. Microsoft identified that the requested account was served on a server in Ireland.

CLOUD Act

Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data Act (CLOUD Act)
While the case was pending in the Supreme Court, Congress passed the Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data Act (CLOUD Act), which amended the SCA to resolve concerns from the government and Microsoft related to the initial warrant.
The legal challenge led to the Supreme Court in Microsoft Corp. v. United States.

Jan Philipp Albrecht

Jan Philipp Albrecht of the European Parliament filed an amicus brief in support of Microsoft, stating that should the court grant execution of the warrant, it could "extend the scope of this anxiety to a sizable majority of the data held in the world’s data centers outside the U.S."
Albrecht has filed an amicus brief supporting Microsoft in Microsoft Corporation v. United States of America.

Information privacy

data protectiondata privacyprivacy
Microsoft Corp. v. United States, known on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court as United States v. Microsoft Corp., was a data privacy case involving the extraterritoriality of law enforcement seeking electronic data under the 1986 Stored Communications Act, Title II of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 (ECPA), in light of modern computing and Internet technologies such as data centers and cloud storage.

Electronic Communications Privacy Act

Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 19861986 Electronic Communications Privacy ActECPA
Microsoft Corp. v. United States, known on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court as United States v. Microsoft Corp., was a data privacy case involving the extraterritoriality of law enforcement seeking electronic data under the 1986 Stored Communications Act, Title II of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 (ECPA), in light of modern computing and Internet technologies such as data centers and cloud storage.

Data center

data centersdata centredatacenter
Microsoft Corp. v. United States, known on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court as United States v. Microsoft Corp., was a data privacy case involving the extraterritoriality of law enforcement seeking electronic data under the 1986 Stored Communications Act, Title II of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 (ECPA), in light of modern computing and Internet technologies such as data centers and cloud storage.

Cloud storage

cloudcloud savescloud saving
Microsoft Corp. v. United States, known on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court as United States v. Microsoft Corp., was a data privacy case involving the extraterritoriality of law enforcement seeking electronic data under the 1986 Stored Communications Act, Title II of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 (ECPA), in light of modern computing and Internet technologies such as data centers and cloud storage.

Microsoft

Microsoft CorporationMicrosoft Corp.MS
In 2013, Microsoft challenged a warrant by the federal government to turn over email of a target account that was stored in Ireland, arguing that a warrant issued under Section 2703 of the Stored Communications Act could not compel American companies to produce data stored in servers outside the United States. As part of the investigation into a drug-trafficking case in December 2013, a United States magistrate judge in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York issued a warrant under the Stored Communications Act of 1986 (SCA) requiring Microsoft to produce all emails and information associated with an account they hosted.

Server (computing)

serverserversserver computer
In 2013, Microsoft challenged a warrant by the federal government to turn over email of a target account that was stored in Ireland, arguing that a warrant issued under Section 2703 of the Stored Communications Act could not compel American companies to produce data stored in servers outside the United States.

United States District Court for the Southern District of New York

Southern District of New YorkS.D.N.Y.U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York
Microsoft initially lost in the Southern District of New York, with the judge stating that the nature of the Stored Communication Act warrant, as passed in 1986, was not subject to territorial limitations. As part of the investigation into a drug-trafficking case in December 2013, a United States magistrate judge in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York issued a warrant under the Stored Communications Act of 1986 (SCA) requiring Microsoft to produce all emails and information associated with an account they hosted.

United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

Second Circuit2d Cir.Second Circuit Court of Appeals
Microsoft appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, who found in favor of Microsoft by 2016 and invalidated the warrant.

Supreme Court of the United States

United States Supreme CourtU.S. Supreme CourtSupreme Court
In response, United States Department of Justice appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States, which decided to hear the appeal.

United States Congress

CongressU.S. CongressCongressional
While the case was pending in the Supreme Court, Congress passed the Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data Act (CLOUD Act), which amended the SCA to resolve concerns from the government and Microsoft related to the initial warrant.

Mootness

mootmootedmoot point
The Supreme Court, following agreement from both the government and Microsoft, determined the passage of the CLOUD Act and a new warrant for the data filed under it made the case moot and vacated the Second Circuit's decision.

United States magistrate judge

Magistrate JudgeU.S. Magistrate JudgeUnited States Magistrate
As part of the investigation into a drug-trafficking case in December 2013, a United States magistrate judge in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York issued a warrant under the Stored Communications Act of 1986 (SCA) requiring Microsoft to produce all emails and information associated with an account they hosted. In May 2014, a federal magistrate judge, reviewing the history of the SCA (which had not been amended since its passage), disagreed with Microsoft and ordered it to turn over the emails, reasoning that unlike a typical warrant, SCA warrants function as both a warrant and a subpoena, and thus are not restricted by territorial constraints.

Warrant (law)

warrantRoyal Warrantwarrants
As part of the investigation into a drug-trafficking case in December 2013, a United States magistrate judge in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York issued a warrant under the Stored Communications Act of 1986 (SCA) requiring Microsoft to produce all emails and information associated with an account they hosted.

Dublin

Dublin, IrelandDublin CityCity of Dublin
While the information was held on Microsoft's United States servers, the emails were stored on a server in Dublin, Ireland, one of numerous servers Microsoft operates located around the world.

Vacated judgment

vacatedvacatevacating
Microsoft moved to vacate the warrant for the content held abroad on December 18, 2013.

Subpoena

subpoenassubpoenaedproduce documents specified
In May 2014, a federal magistrate judge, reviewing the history of the SCA (which had not been amended since its passage), disagreed with Microsoft and ordered it to turn over the emails, reasoning that unlike a typical warrant, SCA warrants function as both a warrant and a subpoena, and thus are not restricted by territorial constraints.

Amicus curiae

amicus briefamici curiaeamicus
Several United States-based technology, publishers, and individuals submitted amicus briefs supporting Microsoft's position.

Government of Ireland

Irish GovernmentgovernmentCabinet
The Irish government also filed a brief in support of neither party.

European Union

EUEuropeanEurope
The Irish government considered that the U.S. government's action violated both the European Union's Data Protection Directive and Ireland's own data privacy laws, and maintained the emails should be disclosed only on request to the Irish government pursuant to the long-standing mutual legal assistance treaty (MLAT) between the U.S. and Ireland formed in 2001; the government offered to consider such a request in an expedited manner for this case.

Data Protection Directive

Directive 95/46/EC on the protection of personal dataDirective 95/46/ECEuropean Data Protection Directive
The Irish government considered that the U.S. government's action violated both the European Union's Data Protection Directive and Ireland's own data privacy laws, and maintained the emails should be disclosed only on request to the Irish government pursuant to the long-standing mutual legal assistance treaty (MLAT) between the U.S. and Ireland formed in 2001; the government offered to consider such a request in an expedited manner for this case.

Mutual legal assistance treaty

mutual legal assistancemutual legal assistance treatiesMutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters
The Irish government considered that the U.S. government's action violated both the European Union's Data Protection Directive and Ireland's own data privacy laws, and maintained the emails should be disclosed only on request to the Irish government pursuant to the long-standing mutual legal assistance treaty (MLAT) between the U.S. and Ireland formed in 2001; the government offered to consider such a request in an expedited manner for this case.