Microsoft’s got some more support today in its ongoing appeal and wider campaign against the U.S. government over how the latter requests customer data from the cloud, and specifically when the servers where the data is stored are located outside the U.S.. Verizon, HP, eBay, Cisco, Salesforce and Infor have come together to file an amicus brief in support of Microsoft’s position in the dispute over data stored on servers in Ireland, calling the U.S. government regulations “extraordinarily sweeping.”
The move today highlights how Microsoft’s fight is quickly becoming a test case for the wider tech industry.
“As described above, the services offered by the amici are different from the email service operated by Microsoft which is at issue in this case. But the logic of the District Court’s ruling extends beyond email services. By increasing suspicions that information foreign customers store with U.S.-owned cloud providers in foreign countries is easily accessible by the U.S. government, the District Court’s order will have a significant detrimental impact on the businesses of the amici and many other companies similarly situated.”
The filing was made as the final flourish on a morning in which Microsoft held an event in New York to announce the third-party support.
While the companies represented in the brief note that they are not in the same business specifically as Microsoft, they are supporting Microsoft because they all have cloud components in their own businesses and could potentially be impacted by the same U.S. government rules and regulations.
One of the big issues for Microsoft (and the supporting companies) is that some of the U.S. government regulations directly conflict certain European laws.
“The District Court’s ruling threatens to force companies like the amici to choose between complying with a U.S. search warrant and violating foreign law, on the one hand, or complying with foreign law and disobeying a U.S. court order, on the other,” they write.
Earlier this year Microsoft made a clear statement when it set out its position regarding the safeguarding of customer data in Europe — practices that were given the thumbs up by European authorities. Complying with U.S. requests could threaten that both for Microsoft and the companies that use its cloud services:
“It will expose American businesses to legal jeopardy in other countries and damage American businesses economically,” the amicus brief notes. “It will upset our international agreements and undermine international cooperation. And it will spur retaliation by foreign governments, which will threaten the privacy of Americans and non-Americans alike.”
The full brief, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, along with Microsoft’s original brief, are both embedded below.