Microsoft welcomes overturning of order to hand over Irish data

Brad Smith, Microsoft's president and chief legal officer
Brad Smith, Microsoft’s president and chief legal officer

Microsoft has welcomed a US court decision overturning an order to hand over data stored in an Irish data centre.

The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that US investigators can’t use the Stored Communications Act to compel access to data stored outside of the country.

As a result, the court found Microsoft has “no remaining lawful obligation to produce materials to the government”.

After the ruling, Brad Smith, Microsoft’s president and chief legal officer, said: “We obviously welcome today’s decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

“The decision is important for three reasons: it ensures that people’s privacy rights are protected by the laws of their own countries; it helps ensure that the legal protections of the physical world apply in the digital domain; and it paves the way for better solutions to address both privacy and law enforcement needs.”

He added: “While Microsoft filed and persisted with this case, we benefited every step of the way from the broad support of many others. We are grateful for this support, including the filing of amicus briefs in the case by 28 technology and media companies, 23 trade associations and advocacy groups, 35 of the nation’s leading computer scientists and the government of Ireland itself.”

The firm has said that Congress and the US President should come together to “modernise” the relevant laws.

Mr Smith said: “We’re encouraged by the recent bipartisan support that has emerged in Congress to consider a new International Communications Privacy Act. We’re also encouraged by the work of the U.S. Justice Department in pursuing a new bilateral treaty approach with the government of the United Kingdom.”