Irish Server Squabble Carries Risk|of ‘Global Chaos,’ Microsoft Warns

     MANHATTAN (CN) – Forcing Microsoft to hand U.S. authorities data stored on a server in Dublin would lead to “global chaos,” the tech giant told the Second Circuit on Wednesday.
     “This is a case about sovereignty,” E. Joshua Rosenkranz, arguing for Microsoft, told the three-judge panel on Wednesday.
     Microsoft has sought appellate relief after a federal judge upheld magistrate’s order for it to turn over user data.
     When U.S. authorities obtained a search warrant for the data in December 2013 as part of an ongoing narcotics investigation, Microsoft turned over the data on in its American servers but balked at having to turn over data held on foreign soil.
     Rozenkranz warned the appellate panel Wednesday that letting authorities seize Microsoft’s server in Ireland would touch off a “global free-for-all.
     The slippery slope could soon cause foreign countries to come to the United States and “plunder all our emails,” the Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe attorney added.
     With the government leaning on the Secure Communications Act, passed by Congress in 1986, to make its request, Rozenkranz noted that Congress wrote this law nearly 30 years before the swelling digital industry.
     “This was a pre-CompuServ, pre-AOL world,” he quipped.
     Judge Gerald Lynch seemed to agree. “Isn’t this for the executive or legislative branch?” he asked. “We don’t do foreign relations.”
     Assistant U.S. Attorney Justin Anderson said Microsoft’s arguments “all fail under scrutiny.”
     “It’s about custody and control,” he said. “It’s about compelling the production of materials.
     “The government is indifferent where Microsoft goes to get the information sought,” Anderson added.
     It was U.S. Magistrate Judge James Francis in Manhattan who granted the government’s warrant last April. Chief U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska upheld that order in August 2014.
     Ireland at first tried to stay out of it, but ultimately wrote the appeals court a 13-page letter, defending its sovereignty , in December.
     “Ireland respectfully asserts that foreign courts are obliged to respect Irish sovereignty (and that of all other sovereign states) whether or not Ireland is a party or intervener in the proceedings before them,” the letter said.
     Ireland encouraged U.S. authorities to get a warrant through a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty, or MLAT, that the two nations had signed in 2001.

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