Following a ruling by a Pennsylvania court that Google would have to turn over emails stored overseas, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Cisco have come together to file an amicus brief in support of the company.
Filing an amicus brief is a way in which companies or people not directly involved in a case can show their interest in it to a court. In this situation, it is in the best interest of the companies that filed the brief that US law enforcement remains unable to access customer data that is currently stored outside of the US.
Although it is currently unclear as to what data Google may have to turn over to law enforcement, last month the company announced that it would fight the order.
In their amicus brief, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Cisco argued that the court's decision is an invasion of consumer privacy, saying:
“When a warrant seeks email content from a foreign data centre, that invasion of privacy occurs outside the United States – in the place where the customers' private communications are stored, and where they are accessed, and copied for the benefit of law enforcement, without the customer's consent.”
The court's decision could also encourage other countries to follow suit by demanding that they have access to the emails of US citizens. The companies highlighted this point in their brief, saying: “Our sister nations clearly view US warrants directing service providers to access, copy, and transmit to the United States data stored on servers located within their territory as an extraterritorial act on the part of the US government.”
Google does plan to appeal the decision and we will certainly hear more once it does.
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