The Supreme Court fight over Microsoft’s foreign servers is over

The much-anticipated Supreme Court case US v. Microsoft — which could have decided the extent of American jurisdiction over foreign servers — is now, for all intents and purposes, dead. On March 30th, the Department of Justice moved to drop the lawsuit as moot, and today, Microsoft filed to agree with the motion. While the Supreme Court has yet to officially drop the case, it’s a foregone conclusion that they will.

Both the government and Microsoft agree that the newly passed CLOUD Act renders the lawsuit meaningless. In US v. Microsoft, federal law enforcement clashed with Microsoft over the validity of a Stored Communications Act warrant for data stored on a server in Dublin. The CLOUD Act creates clear new procedures for procuring legal orders for data in these kinds of cross-border situations. In last week’s motion to vacate, DOJ disclosed that it had procured a new warrant under the CLOUD Act.

Although the new law is not without controversy, Microsoft supported the CLOUD Act while it was still a bill and again took the opportunity praise it in its Supreme Court filing, calling it a “nuanced legislative scheme that creates a modern legal framework for law-enforcement access to data across borders.


…and this sucks.

It always amazes me that the response to anything that might allow the government access to data is treated as a breach of privacy and the reaction is "you should never ever be able to access my data". So you would rather we have no methods of accessing the records of criminals, of any sort, because of the possibility of that tool allowing access to your data…. I don’t get it.

Civilizations are only civilizations because of laws and the enforcement of those laws. If laws cannot be enforced, if criminals cannot be caught, these laws are worthless and we end up with anarchy. Pedofiles would proliferate their dispicable acts using "foreign" cloud storage to store their data and avoid prosecution.

You can’t have 100% privacy under any condition and expect to live in a society that provides you the well being you take for granted. If you think that that we are not a perfect society means this doesn’t apply you are just blowing smoke.

Also the Court was pretty much going to rule that Microsoft had to turn over the information. That storing data on foreign servers was not away to avoid a valid search warrant. It was a poor argument dreamed up by tech people that believe they undercut law through clever technicalities. Which is silly, since that is what law is all about and the tech industry doesn’t understand the rules.

But I do love when people complain about these types of law, not really understanding that due process still exists. The alternative is that the internet becomes such a problem for law enforcement that the goverment has to change it fundamentally, which no one wants. People need to get away from the idea that the internet is a force of nature. It is man made, we can unmake it.

So I guess that means China, Russia, whoever can get any data on any U.S. Citizen in this country. Because of THEIR laws, which I assume to make all things equal, has to trump our own laws. Turnabout is fair play.

Was the data they are trying to access not of a US citizen?

I think if a Chinese citizen is storing data that is saved on US servers, Chinese law enforcement should have some sort of due process, just like the US should for data stored outside the US, for US citizens. For non-citizens that pose a national security threat, there should probably be treated differently, but still have some sort of due process.

It was a US company that had their data over seas and refused to produce it in a case. They had access to it, but refused because it "wasn’t in America". No US company is going to be forced to turn data over to China.

It’s technically an Irish company. Subsidiaries all over the place.

I’m not sure you understand the repercussions of this. I think I’ll side with the ACLU on this one.

The CLOUD Act undermines the rights of individuals both inside and outside the U.S. The legislation would, among other things: (1) allow foreign governments to wiretap on U.S. soil under standards that do not comply with U.S. law; (2) give the executive branch the power to enter into foreign agreements without Congressional approval, including in cases where countries have a concerning human rights record; (3) allow foreign governments to obtain information that could pertain to individuals in the U.S. without meeting constitutional standards; and (4) possibly facilitate foreign government access to information that is used to commit human rights abuses, like torture..


It always amazes me that the response to anything that might allow the government access to data is treated as a breach of privacy and the reaction is "you should never ever be able to access my data".

In 1980, if I was to be wiretapped, it would require a court order.
Today my internet traffic is Hoovered up with no warrant.

In 1980, I could cross the border as a US citizen with no problems.
In 2018, I can be intercepted at the border, have my computer or phone confiscated and their contents fully searched, with no warrant. I could be compelled to give up my passwords or I would be detained.

In 1980, every trial was public.
In 2018, there are secret courts (FISA) who can establish searches of your information and that information is never made public. And the company who might turn that information over to the government is gag-ordered from notifying anybody; they cannot speak.

In 1980, the president respected the free press.
In 2018, the president and administration threatens the free press and suggest laws to impact their behaviors.

The gradual loss of our freedoms is not something to take lightly. It is happening gradually and nobody wants to complain about it.

Um…this case involved due process. It was specifically about compliance with due process.

In 1980, the US government didn’t have jurisdiction over data stored overseas.
In 2018, the CLOUD act now says the US government can go get data stored overseas.
It’s a dangerous precedent, one of many.

Except the data is owned by a US company, was subject to production through a search warrant and part of the data was on servers over seas. The Supreme Court heard arguments and none of the justices were compelled by the argument that Microsoft was not required to supply the data they could access from the US on the foreign server.

The problem is that keep framing it as the the government having jurisdiction over foreign servers. It is about the US being able to compel company to produce data they are holdings over seas. Data they have easy access to from within the US.

The good news is that we’re still free to disagree. I hope that freedom lasts.

Except the data is owned by a US company, was subject to production through a search warrant and part of the data was on servers over seas.

Bah. The "US company" doesn’t own any data apart from the operating system and files necessary for its operation.
The naked picture of my wife, the essay on climate change and entire The Village People discography in mp3 is mine. Mine.
Same goes for sales reports, HR documents etc. which [insert company name] has there.

In this specific case they did, or were the holders of the data. A warrant can require the production of relevant documents that a company/person has possession of or is able to produce. Law does not see an email anything more than a physical document in digital form. Whoever holds it can be required to produce it. That could be the company that runs the email client or the server company that stores the data.

Except the data is owned by a US company

The data is owned by a foreign customer of an American company.

Yea, it’s because this is what every true and legit pedo does. He/she keeps their files in the Microsoft/Apple/Google cloud storage. And this is why this legislation was passed without any "buts" and "ifs".

Context matters. I am not necessarily against this, since Microsoft is a US company and a search warrant appears to have been involved.

There are issues that are potentially much more nefarious. For example, the government wanting Apple to create a tool to unlock iPhones. If you were for this, you probably don’t understand the ramifications of such a tool existing.

I don’t think anyone should be forced to give up passwords or things like that, or companies forced to bypass security measures. The issue with those situations is less clear cut, in my opinion, than this one.

dangerous precedent.

Not really. Unless you think search warrants with due process are dangerous.

yes I do.

Search warrants are notoriously rubber stamped by judges for cops. They often have wrong information.

A confidential informant will either lie or give inaccurate information, the judge will stamp it and next think you know a SWAT team is at the wrong address and killing an innocent resident.

So yeah I do have a problem with search warrants in this country.

Not the ideal situation, but I’m happy Microsoft was willing to fight this out for so long rather than simply fold.

ELI5: CLOUD act.

This is terrible. Not only is this just fundamentally wrong and a serious erosion of our rights, it undermines confidence in american technology. If you’re a foreign company, why would you choose to use technology developed by an American company when your data is open to seizure by the US government?

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