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The United State Supreme Court Judges are set to hear arguments for and against the access to Microsoft's customer data by the Justice Department this coming Tuesday. The outcome of this case will determine the Justice Departments right to gains access to the tech’s company’s data stored off U.S. soil in accordance with the United States law.
Microsoft is seeking to keep the Justice Department from gaining access to a drug trafficking suspect’s emails as they are stored in servers located outside the United State soils. The emails in question are stored in servers located in Dublin.
The current case is as a result of an appeal by the Trump administration after a ruling in favor of the tech company was made by a New-York United States Court of Appeals in 2016. According to the court, the Justice Department’s warrant did not apply to data held by servers outside the United States. This is in keeping with the Stored Communications Act of 1986; the law under which the warrant was granted.
There is a growing appetite for cloud storage services that tech companies need to satisfy. In order to effectively do so, global leaders in the technology and communication fields are embracing the use of remote servers. Should the supreme court rule in favor of the Justice Department, it could spell doom for tech companies. American tech companies with representation all over the world fear that such a ruling would lead to business and subsequent financial losses for them. According to Microsoft and similar companies, such a ruling would be interpreted by consumers to mean that the United States government had a right t infringe on their privacy even beyond the United States.
Microsoft’s bid to amend and update the statute that determines the extent to which the Justice Department is entitled to customer data is backed by other top American Tech companies. Notable names in the list of companies backing Microsoft include Amazon.com Inc, Alphabet Inc, IBM Corp, Verizon Communications, and Apple Inc. All these tech companies have shown their support to Microsoft’s quest by filing court papers reflecting the same. The Trump administration has enlisted the support of 35 states and counting. The state of Vermont is at the forefront of the administration’s supporters in its bid to see the Justice Department granted access to this customer’s data.
Microsoft’s quest for a change in the communications laws of the land take the form of bipartisan legislation in Congress. There is, therefore a race against time between the Supreme Court and Congress. With the Supreme Court ruling expected to be made in June this year, Congress has a chance to guarantee Microsoft a win by passing the new bill before the ruling is made. Such a bill would render this case null and void. Whichever way it goes, both the ruling and the bill are bound to set precedence for all similar scenarios in future. Should either one emerge in favour of Microsoft, the tech company shall be the first tech company in the United States to not only challenge a warrant by the Justice Department but to win and change the law in the process.