Microsoft reaffirms "Your email belongs to you, not us" amidst privacy legal battle

Microsoft has reaffirmed it's stance on customer data privacy by stating in a recent blog post that "Your email belongs to you, not us", following a ruling earlier this month that ordered the company to turn over customer emails stored on a server under their control in Dublin, Ireland.

Brendon Lynch, Chief Privacy Officer at Microsoft said of the decision:

So far the courts have sided with the U.S. government, but we are appealing the latest decision. This case could have important implications outside the U.S.  Other governments could demand emails held in datacenters outside their jurisdiction. In fact, earlier this month the British government passed a law asserting its right to require tech companies to produce emails stored anywhere in the world. This would include emails stored in the U.S. by Americans who have never been to the UK.

The judge ruled that because Microsoft controls the data, that they should be required to turn over the information. Microsoft argued that since the content is stored on foreign soil, that the warrant for the information was invalid. 

Even though Microsoft lost that round, the judge who made the ruling temporarily suspended her own order from taking affect so that Microsoft could appeal to the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals. This means that Microsoft still has a chance to protect the emails and not turn them over to the government if they are able to successfully appeal the ruling.

In a world of ever increasing data monitoring by governments, it seems that Microsoft has still got our backs, for now.

You can read more about the case at the Digital Constitution website and in a recent op-ed from Brad Smith, Microsoft General Counsel and Executive Vice President for Legal and Corporate Affairs.

Source:  Trustworthy Computing (Microsoft) | Image: Original gavel image via Brian Turner / Flickr

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Walking Dead for Pinball FX2 on Xbox One reviewed

Next Story

Windows Phone 8.1 now on almost 25% of devices, Microsoft owns 95% of the hardware

43 Comments

Please Login or Sign Up to post a comment.

Welcome to the global information age. Nations have a few choices - go to an iron curtain, kill off privacy altogether, or make international privacy laws.

Welcome to the global information age. Nations have a few choices - go to an iron curtain, kill off privacy altogether, or make international privacy laws.

I appreciate MS pushing back on this. However, at this point, it doesn't really matter if you trust MS or Google, or whoever. If the government wants it, they will get it, legally or not.

While i agree with you i still don't like this way of thinking. I mean many people died in the last 100 years or so to give us the democracy, freedom and rights we have today. I think it is sad that we are willing to give away all that without fighting. The 20-30 years old generation (which i'm part of) is really weak and is willing to accept pretty much anything not to have to bother with politic. We are like the people in the movie Gladiator. Thay can buy us with games and fun.

LaP said,
While i agree with you i still don't like this way of thinking. I mean many people died in the last 100 years or so to give us the democracy, freedom and rights we have today.

Other than people dying here in the United States to fight for civil rights on matters of color and sexual/gender orientation, I cant think of a single death in the last 100 years that was to protect democracy, freedom and rights we have in the United States today.

AmazingRando said,

Other than people dying here in the United States to fight for civil rights on matters of color and sexual/gender orientation, I cant think of a single death in the last 100 years that was to protect democracy, freedom and rights we have in the United States today.


What about the WW1 and WW2? Americans also took part to defend their country, they did not just take part to only defend other countries, remember pearl harbor as example of a direct attack to the US. Also the US has fought against terrorists that want to change the US to a islamic state. In all those fights to keep and create freedom, rights, democracy and peace countless people died.

Seahorsepip said,

What about the WW1 and WW2? Americans also took part to defend their country, they did not just take part to only defend other countries, remember pearl harbor as example of a direct attack to the US. Also the US has fought against terrorists that want to change the US to a islamic state. In all those fights to keep and create freedom, rights, democracy and peace countless people died.

WW1 ... nope.
WW2 ... We were fine to leave things alone in Europe and the Pacific until Pearl Harbor where our Navy was attacked. We only had 48 States then, and Hawaii wasnt one of them.

"Terrorists" dont want to change us into an Islamic state. Sure that me their goal 1000 years from now but I think first they would prefer us to stop killing them and people in their own countries first. I guarantee you they have no interest in the fact that someone in Iowa has the right to go out and protest a grievance with the government or use their right to vote. They are not interested in our "rights" or "freedoms". That's some fictitious nonsense made up to get support for a war of aggression that's been going on for nearly 50 years.

Now, make no mistake, there have been courageous men and women die doing what our country has asked them to do and there have been countless acts of heroism during all of these conflicts between US troops, police and rescue workers. But at no time have our freedoms ever been directly in danger.

If the data is vital/needed to protect someone and the United States, then that data should be given up regardless of where it is located as long as there is a court order. And that goes for any company. Of course, will be hard to determine if the request is legit/valid. Just another touchy subject to be worked out.

Edited by techbeck, Aug 29 2014, 11:42am :

That is a very slippery slope. If this passes then what is to prevent any government from demanding PHYSICAL assets found on foreign soil? What is the difference?

Physical asset will probably confiscated if it is acquired illegally. It is like they're not doing that now. For example, freezing your assets that's in another country, and if he/she is proven guilty in court, the assets are confiscated.

I don't mind if someone's email account is acquire for the protection of the country. No matter what, freedom is not cheap, we have to pay for it some form of fashion whether we like it or not.

LaP, unfortunately, it has been happening for a long, long time, and it is just now being brought to the spotlight.

And when I meant someone's email is acquired, I am talking about someone that is about to do harm to this country or any other country.

Oh, as TechBeck said, as long that there is a court order, and shows proof that someone is going to do harm, then I think it is valid to acquire the necessary information to prevent people in getting into harm's way.

I trust more Microsoft than Google because that's how Google became so rich. Selling your privacy and you to third party for money.

... do no evil?

At this point, I definitely trust MS with my data far more than I do Google. It might be more pricey, but I feel like it is safer on MS's server. If only they could develop a competent web browser...

I trust no one with my data, period. Only myself. So nothing personal/critical gets put on Google, MS, Apple, or any others servers. Never know when someone may suspect you of doing something wrong and reads your emails and gets you in trouble....

techbeck said,
I trust no one with my data, period. Only myself. So nothing personal/critical gets put on Google, MS, Apple, or any others servers. Never know when someone may suspect you of doing something wrong and reads your emails and gets you in trouble....

One of my best friends is very much like you about entrusting anyone that isn't in their 'circle' to even their most banal data.

I did help them move over to trusting Microsoft 'a bit', and I also got them to store some stuff online; however, they storing data on OneDrive inside a dual encrypted VHD. :)

Since it mounts easily on Windows 7/8, they at least have some access to their data offsite. (Solutions like this are available and worth looking into for the more paranoid/private people.)

Well, I don't put sensitive data up on OneDrive, but I also trust MS more with search histories and such, in terms of opening up data

techbeck said,
Never know when someone may suspect you of doing something wrong and reads your emails and gets you in trouble....

Tech ...that's just it. If you don't have anything to hide and are storing items that complies within their policies, then everything should be just fine.

I am not going to disagree with you on that. I wouldn't post sensitive information like that either . There are things you can and can't upload.

Good guy Microsoft. I'm glad as an outlook.com user they are championing user privacy. If only Google would do the same, maybe they would have the clout to get the message across to governments.

Well, seeing as GMail is the supposedly the go-to email service for terrorists, I'd say Google isn't proactive in turning over that data (willingly) as well.

http://www.neowin.net/news/former-nsa-head-says-gmail-is-number-one--with-terrorists

No but they do trawl your data for advertising purposes so who knows where all your collated usage data has ended up :/

Gotta remember with Google WE are their product...

Ads are pulled by an on-the-fly routine, what has to be stored? The routine just picks out keywords and uses that to serve relevant ads.

Don't kid yourself that they use your data just on the fly to show you ads. It is stored, mined, and the analytics sold. Even more so if you use Chrome browser and sign in with an account.

Steven P. said,
Well, seeing as GMail is the supposedly the go-to email service for terrorists, I'd say Google isn't proactive in turning over that data (willingly) as well.

http://www.neowin.net/news/former-nsa-head-says-gmail-is-number-one--with-terrorists

This isn't because of user privacy, this is because of the malware level ease in creating temporary accounts and storing information in 'Draft' locations and data then only crosses the network via the GMail interface.

As for user privacy, Google has fought several governments; however, the fine print that people never notice is that they stop fighting when they are offered money for the information. (Google only fights when someone wants the information for free or below their remuneration rates.)

If you are a large company or a government entity, you would be absolutely shocked how much information you can buy from Google. There is a reason that small countries refer to Google as their 'NSA'.

Steven P. said,
Well, seeing as GMail is the supposedly the go-to email service for terrorists, I'd say Google isn't proactive in turning over that data (willingly) as well.

http://www.neowin.net/news/former-nsa-head-says-gmail-is-number-one--with-terrorists

Yeah but Google is protecting terrorists cause Google is evil. They will sell your data since you are not a terrorist /s

LaP said,

Yeah but Google is protecting terrorists cause Google is evil. They will sell your data since you are not a terrorist /s

Lmaooooo!! You just made my day :D

Are you slow or something or just living under a rock? Google DOES sell your data. Anonymised data, but data it has collected directly from you nonetheless.

Your data is a valuable commodity to them and they have monetized it extremely well.

Well, they say it's anonymized, but it's a simple matter of purchasing consumer data from a data broker and then data mining to match up your porn queries with how much Axe body spray you buy from Walmart. Data brokers are selling reams of detailed data on your credit card purchases, etc. In Charlotte, NC, the main hospital system is purchasing credit card purchase data for Charlotte residents - so they can analyze how much McDonald's patients are horking down while their doctors are treating them for heart disease/diabetes/hypertension, etc.
http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2014/06/27/5008894/hospitals-including-carolinas.html#.VAIBoU0g_3E

Oh and if you want a high paying job with guaranteed security, get into SQL Analytics/Business Intelligence/SQL reporting. There's gold in them SQL tables.

In fact, earlier this month the British government passed a law asserting its right to require tech companies to produce emails stored anywhere in the world. This would include emails stored in the U.S. by Americans who have never been to the UK.

It concerns me as a UK citizen that I had not heard or seen anything about this. I don't agree with this at all...

DeltaXray said,
They're clearly doing it at the behest of the Americans for support for their current agenda.
of the American government*. I don't want my own government have access to data stored online about anyone at any time. Nor any government for that matter.