US Court: the government cannot use a search warrant to force Microsoft to turn over users’ data stored in another jurisdiction

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An appeals court in the USA has ruled that the government cannot use a search warrant to force Microsoft to turn over the email communications of a criminal suspect in a drug case, as the communications were stored at Microsoft’s data center in Dublin, Ireland. The ruling, which overturned a previous order granted in 2014, said that a search warrant granted under the Stored Communications Act cannot be applied internationally. Microsoft, as well as human rights advocates, see the ruling as a positive precedent that limits US government’s ability to demand access to data stored in data centers located outside the US borders, even when the companies storing the data have their headquarters in the US. However, US authorities would still be able to demand access to data stored in other jurisdictions on the basis of Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties concluded with other countries.

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