Short Reads

E-mails stored outside the US cannot be claimed by the US Government

E-mails stored outside the US cannot be claimed by the US Government

E-mails stored outside the US cannot be claimed by the US Government

13.10.2016

On 14 July 2016 the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (the Court of Appeals) rendered a judgment in the “Warrant case” (or the “Microsoft Ireland case”).

The three judge panel ruled that Microsoft is not obliged to hand over personal data (e-mails) at the request of US intelligence agencies if this information is stored outside US territory. The Court of Appeals thereby overturned an earlier ruling from the District Court.

In 2013 a US intelligence agency requested access to all e-mails and private information of a suspect in a narcotics case. The e-mails were stored in a Microsoft data center in Dublin, Ireland. Microsoft agreed to provide access to all information stored on US servers but refused to hand over the data stored in Dublin. Microsoft’s defense in doing so was that a US judge has no authority to issue warrants to seize information stored outside US territory.

In May 2014 a federal magistrate judge ordered Microsoft to hand over the e-mails to the US government. Microsoft appealed to the District Court for the Southern District of New York against this decision. This District Court ruled in favor of the US government, hence Microsoft’s appeal before the Court of Appeals.

In short, the Court of Appeals concludes that the US government does not have legal grounds to seek possession of data stored on servers outside the US territory: “Congress did not intend the SCA’s (Stored Communications Act) warrant provisions to apply extraterritorially. The focus of those provisions is protection of a user’s privacy interests. Accordingly, the SCA does not authorize a US court to issue and enforce an SCA warrant against a United States-based service provider for the contents of a customer’s electronic communications stored on servers located outside the US. The SCA warrant in this case may not lawfully be used to compel Microsoft to produce to the government the contents of a customer’s e-mail account stored exclusively in Ireland. Because Microsoft has otherwise complied with the Warrant, it has no remaining lawful obligation to produce materials to the government.”

This decision can be considered revolutionary because it puts an end to EU-located cloud providers’ common practice of handing over data requested by US intelligence agencies under a warrant. It is expected that the US government will appeal against this decision of the Court of Appeals.

In view of news reports regarding recent revelations made by Edward Snowden, the question remains whether this decision of the Court of Appeals effectively limits US intelligence agencies’ gaining possession of personal data from the EU. Snowden’s revelations say that EU intelligence agencies provide data of European citizens and companies without having to fulfill many formalities to US intelligence agencies. The Washington Post reported in February that the US and the UK are negotiating to give their intelligence agencies the authority to give interception orders and warrants to companies based in both countries.

This article was co-written by summer intern Sebastiaan de Koning.

Team

Related news

15.07.2019 EU law
ICO to impose record-breaking fines for inadequate security measures and data breaches

Short Reads - Though the European data protection authorities have taken their time in enforcing the GDPR, two announcements by the ICO in the UK regarding proposed fines for British Airways and Marriott demonstrate that large fines are about to start landing regularly. Both of the substantial fines are to be handed out as a result of shortcomings in handling data breaches caused by cyber-attacks.

Read more

27.06.2019 NL law
Stibbe launches website about Digital Economy

Inside Stibbe - Stibbe's Digital Economy group published a new website this week: Stibbedigital.com With this new website we aim to view technological developments including artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, the Internet of Things, smart mobility and the rise of digital platforms from a legal perspective.

Read more

05.07.2019 EU law
The two sides of the ECS coin

Articles - The concept of ‘electronic communications service’ (“ECS”) defined in Article 2(c) of Directive 2002/21/EC (“Framework Directive”) has been interpreted in two decisions of the ECJ in June 2019: C‑142/18 Skype communications and C-193/18 Google LLC.

Read more

21.06.2019 NL law
Nieuw boetebeleid van de Autoriteit Persoonsgegevens

Short Reads - Op 14 maart 2019 zijn de nieuwe Boetebeleidsregels Autoriteit Persoonsgegevens 2019 ("Boetebeleidsregels") van de Autoriteit Persoonsgegevens ("AP") gepubliceerd. Dit boetebeleid heeft de AP opgesteld vanwege de inwerkingtreding van de Algemene verordening gegevensverwerking ("AVG") en omdat er op Europees niveau nog geen boeterichtsnoeren zijn opgesteld.

Read more

02.07.2019 NL law
Debate night: HR Analytics: opportunity or threat?

Seminar - On 2 July 2019, Stibbe's Digital Economy Group will host a debate night in Amsterdam on the hot topic of HR analytics. During Stibbe's debate night, speakers from the world of business, politics, science and law will exchange views on HR analytics, how they can be used in practice, and their development in the context of employment and privacy law.

Read more

21.06.2019 NL law
Dutch Data Protection Authority publishes new fining policy

Short Reads - The Dutch Data Protection Authority ("DPA") has published its new Fining policy for Administrative Fines. The new policy was drafted in response to the lack of such guidelines at the European level following the entering into force of the General Data Protection Regulation ("GDPR"). In the policy, the DPA elaborates on how the amount of fines for infringements of the GDPR, the Police Data Act, the Judicial and Criminal Records Act and the Telecommunications Act will be calculated. In this blog post, we will discuss the outline of this new policy.

Read more

Our website uses functional cookies for the functioning of the website and analytic cookies that enable us to generate aggregated visitor data. We also use other cookies, such as third party tracking cookies - please indicate whether you agree to the use of these other cookies:

Privacy – en cookieverklaring