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Microsoft and US Government at it again over emails in Ireland

Oral arguments on the case between the US government and Microsoft will start next Wednesday in Manhattan, and the main problem seems to be whether or not cloud computing has a nationality, and if it does – whose?

Microsoft is in dispute with the US government over emails and other customer data it has stored on its servers in Ireland. The US government wants access to that data.

Microsoft believes that a negative outcome could ruin the trust of its cloud customers outside the US, as well as affect relationships between the U.S. and other governments which have their own data protection and privacy laws. That could also mean foreign governments could reach into computers in the US, of companies over which they assert jurisdiction, and go for private data of US citizens.

While investigating a case, the US government has gotten a warrant to access emails of a person, who has them stored on Microsoft’s servers, but the company says that nowhere did the U.S. Congress say that the Electronics Communications Privacy Act "should reach private emails stored on providers’ computers in foreign countries."

A number of technology companies, civil rights groups and computer scientists have sided with Microsoft, however lower courts have disagreed with Microsoft's point of view.

According to a report by PC World, U.S. Magistrate Judge James C. Francis IV of the of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York had in April last year refused to quash a warrant that authorized the search and seizure of information linked with a specified Web-based email account stored at Microsoft's premises. Judge Loretta Preska of the District Court for the Southern District of New York rejected Microsoft's appeal of the ruling, and the company thereafter appealed to the Second Circuit.