Microsoft refuses US email data order

September 1, 2014 | 10:51

Tags: #appeal #azure #cloud #cloud-computing #cloud-storage #court #legal #office-365 #onedrive #outlook #privacy #security

Companies: #microsoft #us-government

Microsoft has indicated that it has no intentions of complying with a US court order to turn over email data held on foreign servers, despite having lost its appeal against the order.

The US government has been attempting to order Microsoft to turn over customer data held on its Dublin-based servers for some time, with the company appealing against the order with the claim that the Fourth Amendment to the US constitution - protection against physical searches outside the US - should apply. In August, the courts ruled against Microsoft and once again ordered Microsoft to cough up the data. The argument was simple: while the data, and even the targeted customer, may be outside the US, Microsoft itself operates within the US and therefore is subject to US law.

That could have been the end of it, but Microsoft isn't going down without a fight. A company spokesperson has told Reuters that it 'will not be turning over the email,' and that it plans to take its appeal to a higher court. 'Everyone agrees that this case can and will proceed to the appeals court,' the spokesperson said. 'This is simply about finding the appropriate procedure for that to happen.'

Until that procedure is found and Microsoft's appeal can be formally lodged, it technically stands in contempt of court by refusing to provide the data. If it caves and turns over the emails, however, it could risk severely damaging consumer confidence in the very concept of cloud-based data storage and application provision - a major blow for its Azure, OneDrive, Outlook and Office 365 products.
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