Microsoft refuses to hand over emails stored in Ireland, held in contempt by judge

Microsoft has urged US District Judge Loretta Preska, the judge presiding over the case that sees the company refusing to hand some emails stored in its Dublin facility over to the US government, to find them in contempt.

The request, made both by the company and the government, was granted and allows Microsoft to immediately appeal Judge Preska’s last year’s ruling. The judge didn’t impose any sanctions while the case proceeds to the court of appeals.

The software giant has already contested the initial decision, arguing that “the Government cannot seek and a court cannot issue a warrant allowing federal agents to break down the doors of Microsoft’s Dublin facility. Likewise, the Government cannot conscript Microsoft to do what it has no authority itself to do – i.e. execute a warranted search abroad.”

The appeal was unsuccessful, and the ruling was confirmed on July 31, 2014.

“The US has entered into many bilateral agreements establishing specific procedures for obtaining physical evidence in another country including a recently-updated agreement with Ireland. We think the same procedures should apply in the online world,” the company explained in a post on its website dedicated to the case, in which they confirmed their intention to appeal the decision once more.

“If the US government prevails in reaching into other countries’ data centers, other governments are sure to follow. One already is. Earlier this month the British government passed a law asserting its right to require tech companies to produce emails stored anywhere in the world. This would include emails stored in the US by Americans who have never been to the UK.”

“The US has both a responsibility and an opportunity to show new leadership on privacy issues,” says Microsoft, who is worried that the current decision will negatively impact on its business and the competitiveness of US cloud providers, as it will erode the trust of foreign governments and companies.

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