Microsoft’s case to prevent the United States government from using search warrants to demand data that is not stored in the United States has picked up a number of high-profile backers, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Verizon, AT&T, and, recently, Apple and Cisco.
The final two filed a joint amicus brief, which details their protest of the practice. Microsoft lost its initial suit, as it expected, and has refiled the case. I reached out to both Apple and Cisco for additional comment.
The United States government had issued a warrant for data stored on the company’s servers in Ireland. Microsoft didn’t think that it was reasonable for a United States-specific warrant to apply to overseas and extra-national data. As TechCrunch previously reported, it’s a reasonable point.
What’s noteworthy now is the amount of backing that Microsoft has picked up. More than a trillion dollars in market capitalization are behind the cessation of this specific practice. That’s institutional heft of the material sort.
I wouldn’t be surprised if other technology giants joined in the fight.
Why do companies give a whit if their data overseas is out of the reach of the United States government? Read the question again, and see if you don’t have your answer. Glibness aside, tech companies are now segregating data for certain clients. European firms don’t want to use a storage solution that the United States government can easily demand access to.
Thus, if Microsoft et al want to sell cloud products or communications tools to global customers, they need to be able to say that the data involved is safe. And if the United States government can simply access that data, even when stored, say, in Ireland, with a non-local warrant, tech firms from this country aren’t going to sell much of anything abroad.
IMAGE BY FLICKR USER ROBERT SCOBLE UNDER CC BY 2.0 LICENSE (IMAGE HAS BEEN CROPPED)