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Microsoft takes on the US government over data held overseas

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Do you think that America's law enforcement agencies should have free access to the emails of your friends over in Ireland? It's the question that an appeals court is being asked to consider in a matter that has serious consequences for everyone in the world. The issue began when drug enforcement officials wanted to access to messages that were stored on a Microsoft server in Dublin. As far as Microsoft was concerned, that was a matter for the Irish government, but the g-people tried to hold the company's US arm accountable. Disturbingly, the US won the first two legal challenges, and now New York's 2nd circuit is about to hear to the appeal on behalf of Microsoft, with some cheering on from the rest of the technology industry.

As Reuters reports, the court will be asked to decide if Microsoft in the US had control and access to the emails, rather than where they were housed at the time. The problem is that whatever the result, it's going to wind up to be problematic for both Microsoft and the tech industry as a whole. If the company wins, then it's likely to be attacked by numerous law enforcement agencies as they say that Satya Nadella is personally endorsing the actions of criminals. If it loses, however, it's likely to outrage its global customers who are rightly reluctant to see their private data handed over to the government. Not to mention the geopolitical element, since the US will effectively give itself permission to look at private information on overseas citizens. It probably won't be able to complain if foreign governments do the same thing in return, since that'd smack of double standards.

[Image Credit: Ted S Warren/AP Photo]

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