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are you Americans willing to subject yourself


I felt certain this story already has been told here at DC. However, I couldn't find it, so...:


Top story by Woody Leonhard :

>>Defying Feds, MS tries to keep user data private
Microsoft is currently fighting a federal search warrant demanding that the company release emails stored in Ireland.

Here's why you should be extremely concerned by a U.S. court's actions — and what you can do about it.

I'll start with a brief history of the case:

In December 2013, having been shown probable cause, Magistrate Judge for the Southern District of New York James Francis issued a search warrant ordering Microsoft to disclose the contents of a specific email account. (A copy of the warrant and related documents discussed below are posted on the Electronic Frontier Foundation's site.)

While preparing to comply with the warrant, Microsoft discovered that only the account holder's name, email address, country, and similar information were stored in Microsoft's U.S.-based servers. The true subjects of the search — the emails — actually sat in a server in Dublin, Ireland (most likely because the person who set up the account told Microsoft that he or she lived outside the U.S.).

As required by the warrant, Microsoft disclosed the details of the account to federal investigators/attorneys — but it refused to divulge the content of the emails because, according to Microsoft, it was outside the jurisdiction of U.S. courts.


"If this Court rules that the U.S. Government may unilaterally reach into foreign countries and expose their citizens' personal digital letters, the United States and its citizens cannot complain when foreign governments do the same to email content stored here."

In November, Apple, Oracle, IBM, HP, and other organizations with irons in the same online-data fire petitioned the European Union for help. Ireland, which obviously should have some say in the matter, specifically asked the European Commission to file a brief supporting Microsoft's appeal, according to a MerrionStreet report. That article quotes Irish European Affairs and Data Protection Minister Dara Murphy:

"By seeking direct access to data held in the E.U. through the U.S. judicial system, existing legal mechanisms for mutual assistance between jurisdictions may be being effectively bypassed. There are fundamental issues at stake here as regards the protection of personal data that is held within the European Union."

On Dec. 8, Microsoft took its appeal up the ladder to the U.S. Second Circuit Court, where the case stands for now. It could eventually end up in the U.S. Supreme Court.

What this conflict means to U.S. citizens

Many Americans might view this case as primarily an issue for Europeans. But that's far from the case. In a Dec. 8 blog post, Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith adroitly turned the problem around — what if German authorities targeted an American citizen who stored personal information in a U.S.-based German bank? His example:

"Imagine this scenario. Officers of the local Stadtpolizei investigating a suspected leak to the press descend on Deutsche Bank headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany. They serve a warrant to seize a bundle of private letters that a New York Times reporter is storing in a safe deposit box at a Deutsche Bank USA branch in Manhattan. The bank complies by ordering the New York branch manager to open the reporter's box with a master key, rummage through it, and fax the private letters to the Stadtpolizei."

The Microsoft warrant brings up numerous long-term implications. For example, if the Feds prevail, what would stop a judge outside the U.S. from compelling Microsoft to hand over the contents of your account? Citing the Microsoft case, could officials in, say, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, or any other country you care to name force Apple into recording your iPhone conversations?

In other words, are you willing to subject yourself to any analogous "probable-cause" requirement issued by any country on the planet?

In my opinion — and the opinion of many others who value privacy — that way lies madness.


There’s no direct way, short of hoisting a picket sign and marching in front of the Second Circuit courthouse, that typical computer users can make our opinions known to the judiciary — but there are other avenues to express your views.

First, get the word out to others you know. I’m amazed at how many people read the headlines, see that Microsoft is fighting for data privacy, then scoff and move on to the next story. This is an important issue — right up there with net neutrality — that should be discussed and understood by everyone who uses email.

Second, if you’re a U.S. citizen, notify your congresspersons. The Senate website has complete >instructions< for emailing or snailmailing senators; the House site has help for finding your congress critter. Also, the sites for specific representatives usually include links for sending email.

When you write, tell your congressional representatives that you’re disturbed by the course of Second Circuit case 14-2985-CV. Tell them that they should consider amending 18 USC 2703 to clearly delineate the legal distinctions of domestic and international email. <<

by Woody Leonhard /windowssecrets


This really matters to you and me!



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