Posted by Michelle Belvin.
Microsoft Corp. v. United States is a ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit that a warrant issued under the Stored Communications Act (SCA) cannot compel American companies to produce information stored in servers outside the United States.
The warrant issued directed Microsoft to seize and produce the contents of an e‐mail account, which was believed to be used in the development of narcotics trafficking. Microsoft did deliver the customer’s non‐content information to the government as was asked, and that data was stored in the United States. However, in order for Microsoft to fully comply with the warrant, it would have to obtain customer content that is located in Ireland and then transport it into the United States. “Believing the data in Ireland to be beyond the jurisdiction of the warrant, Microsoft moved to quash the warrant.” The court concluded that Congress did not intend the SCA’s warrant provisions to apply extraterritorially. The Second Circuit “held that the government cannot compel Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to turn over data stored overseas, even with a warrant.”
The SCA also does not authorize a U.S. court to issue and enforce a SCA warrant against a U.S. based service provider for the contents of a customer’s electronic communications stored on servers located outside the United States. Therefore, the court concluded that the district court lacked authority to enforce the warrant against Microsoft.
Michelle is a business management major at the Stillman School of Business, Seton Hall University, Class of 2020.