Apple and Cisco have joined Microsoft in fighting warrants for foreign data

Microsoft’s case to prevent the United States government from using search warrants to demand data that is not stored in the United States has picked up a number of high-profile backers, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Verizon, AT&T, and, recently, Apple and Cisco. The final two filed a joint amicus brief, which details their protest of the practice. Microsoft lost its initial suit, as it expected, and has refiled the case. I reached out to both Apple and Cisco for additional comment. The United States government had issued a warrant for data stored on the company’s servers in Ireland. Microsoft didn’t think that it was reasonable for a United States-specific warrant to apply to overseas and extra-national data.

Microsoft is challenging a US search warrant for customer emails stored on a data center outside the country, and tech companies are lining up in support. Apple and Cisco are the latest to file a friend-of-the-court brief backing the software giant’s position. The joint filing, made Friday, is in addition to ones earlier in the week by Verizon and AT&T showing their support. The Electronic Frontier Foundation also filed a friend-of-the-court brief Friday, saying US warrants don’t apply to emails stored on an overseas server. “The Fourth Amendment protects from unreasonable search and seizure. You can’t ignore the ‘seizure’ part just because the property is digital and not physical,” said EFF Staff Attorney Hanni Fakhoury, according to a press release Friday. “Ignoring this basic point has dangerous implications — it could open the door to unfounded law enforcement access to and collection of data stored around the world.” Court papers made public Monday detail Microsoft’s objections to comply with a December warrant for a customer’s email data stored in Dublin, Ireland, that the US government is seeking in connection with a criminal investigation.

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