Microsoft Victory in Overseas Email Seizure Bounces Back

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The court refuses to reconsider its landmark decision forbidding the U.S. government from forcing companies like Microsoft Corp to turn in customer emails stored on servers out the Unites States, Reported Reuters.

The 4-4 vote by the 2nd United States U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan which took place on Tuesday, let stand the decision from July 14 , which was considered as a victory for privacy advocates. This decision was also a matter of importance for tech companies that offer cloud computing and other services across the globe.

However, the judges noted that the decision by a three-judge panel could possibly hamstring law enforcement, and called on the U.S. Supreme Court or Congress to reverse it. 

“The panel majority's decision does not serve any serious, legitimate, or substantial privacy interest,” Circuit Judge Jose Cabranes wrote in dissent.

Peter Carr, a U.S. Department of Justice spokesman, told Reuters that “We are reviewing the decision and its multiple dissenting opinions and considering our options.”

In the decision from July, Circuit Judge Susan Carney ruled that companies like Microsoft could not be forced to submit emails for a case dealing with narcotics, but they were all stored in a server in Dublin, Ireland.

Making Microsoft the first company in the United States to challenge a domestic search warrant looking for content which was stored outside the country. The case attracted attention from tech and media companies.

The Tuesday’s ruling however, says that this should not be an issue because, even though the emails were stored outside the country, Microsoft is a company which based out of the United States.

“It has substantially burdened the government's legitimate law enforcement efforts; created a roadmap for the facilitation of criminal activity; and impeded programs to protect the national security of the United States and its allies,” Cabranes wrote.

The judge also hopes that the panel’s view of the 1986 law “can be rectified as soon as possible by a higher judicial authority or by the Congress.”