A search warrant usually allows law enforcement agencies complete access to, well, search a particular place. That’s the case in America, which is one of the main reasons why Microsoft isn’t too thrilled that it has been slapped with a search warrant for access to its servers outside the United States, or in this case, emails that are being hosted on servers in Ireland.
According to the latest technology products news, the legal tussle which was going on between Microsoft and the U.S. Government reached its boiling point recently when the Government demanded that Microsoft has to hand over customer emails that are stored outside the country. It seems that in the post-Snowden era and after the revelations on the methods of how the Government collects sensitive information, IT and tech companies are growing more resistant to Government pressure on handing over information regarding its users. As a matter of fact, other big names in the tech industry such as, Google and Yahoo have also upped their security measures and are now encrypting user emails as protection from illicit Government intrusion.
For the tech industry, the Microsoft vs. government case is big news, especially because it’s got to do with the rights regarding the privacy of millions of users who use the services of various tech companies within the U.S.
According to Microsoft’s legal counsel, the decision that was passed out in mid December by a magistrate judge on the grounds that prosecutors needed to look into a criminal case in which Microsoft’s service, Outlook.com was used, gives law enforcement agencies access to emails stored in Microsoft’s hub office in Dublin, Ireland.
Many believe that the anti-trust case against Microsoft is a clear example of the government’s intrusion of what formerly was thought to be considered as an industry which was free of infringement. After the court order, several tech firms have come out and said that this kind of hindrance is having a negative impact of their customers who are now too afraid of using the services of companies which are located in the U.S, consequently, impeding all future technological progress in the industry. On the other hand, a warrant which is recognized by Ireland would help prevent any undesired legal precedent from being established.
Microsoft has also previously blamed the U.S. government on their methods for collecting digital information without their consent has eroding the trust of their customers in other countries. Microsoft has challenged the warrant saying that it unlawfully gives U.S law enforcement power to kick down the doors of their offices overseas. According to the latest technology products news, Verizon has filed a legal brief in Support of Microsoft and the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) and other major players are also expected to do the same in the coming weeks.
After the warrant was filed, the tech industry seems to be faced with a strange dilemma. On one hand, if the government gains rights to access digital content from servers of tech companies, it would be the end of privacy for user information as we know it. On the other hand, if the legal argument stands, and the tech industry somehow wins the case, it would be a serious blow for law enforcement agencies in fighting criminals. But there is one question that begs an answer, “If the warrant is approved, will the U.S government allow access to its server farms, to let’s say…China?