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

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