Microsoft to be held in Contempt of Court
A federal judge is deciding whether to find Microsoft in contempt of court for not following orders to give the American government e-mails stored on an overseas server. The case involves the belief that an email on the company’s server in Dublin, Ireland is relevant to the crime of drug trafficking. The law stands that any corporation operating in American must follow with valid warrants for data even if the content is stored overseas.
Microsoft expressed that it will not be turning over the email. The US District Judge Loretta Preska could just wave her wand and issue a contempt order as a solution to this problem. Prior to this, the judge already ordered Microsoft to hand over the data and found in favour of the government back in July. The judge’s original July ruling endorsed the US government’s position that it should be able to access the world’s servers. “It is a question of control, not a question of the location of that information,” Preska ruled. Microsoft and other tech corporations argue that this is wrong. According to them, the enforcement of American law is limited to American soil.
She did not enforce the ruling until last Friday when she decided her decision was not up for appeal and lifted the temporary stay. The only way the tech giant can wiggle out of this one is if it obtains legal standing to an appeal if found in contempt. This may just be the option the company chooses to take. Microsoft said Tuesday that “Everyone agrees this case can and will proceed to the appeals court. This is simply about finding the appropriate procedure for that to happen.”
On the other side, the government is pushing Judge Preska to go ahead and find Microsoft in contempt. “If Microsoft refuses to comply with the order, then the Government respectfully requests that the Court issue a contempt order that would, in turn, be a properly appealable final order, which could be stayed on consent pending appeal,” the government wrote.
Why is Microsoft putting up such a fight? Well, its consumer trust is at an all time low coming off the Edward Snowden revelations. It was bound to happen that one of the tech tycoons drew the line and put its foot down. We’re hoping that some peaceful solution can be found instead of an all time battle between the government and the tech world. We’ll be following the story closely as major issues regarding international boundaries and consumer privacy can be altered with the outcome of this case.