Microsoft vs. U.S. Justice Department in the question about your private data

This might change everything, if people really believe that Microsoft worked with the Government together then they aren’t aware of the current fight – this supreme court wrestles with Microsoft data privacy fight to answer the question if or how many data the government gets.


The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to resolve a major privacy dispute between the Justice Department and Microsoft over whether prosecutors should get access to emails stored on company servers overseas.

Microsoft vs. Department of Justice (DoJ)

The Story started 2013 or maybe even earlier when Microsoft rejected to hand over data to the DoJ. Because of this, we have the unanswered question what Microsoft needs to provide or if they simply can refuse it without being punished.

Microsoft, which has over 100 data centers in over 40 countries, was the first American company to challenge a domestic search warrant seeking data held outside the United States. The Microsoft customer whose emails were sought told the company he was based in Ireland when he signed up for his account. Other companies including IBM Corp, Inc, Apple Inc, Verizon Communications Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google filed court papers backing Microsoft.

The Justice Department said in its appeal that the lower court ruling “gravely threatens public safety and national security” because it limits the government’s ability to “ward off terrorism and similar national security threats and to investigate and prosecute crimes.”

The case attracted significant attention from technology and media companies concerned that a ruling favoring the government could jeopardize the privacy of customers and make them less likely to use cloud services because of concern that data could be seized.

The appeals court ruled that Microsoft could not be forced to turn over emails sought in the narcotics case that were stored in Dublin. The Microsoft customer in question had told the company he was based in Ireland when he signed up for his account.

Though Microsoft is based in Washington state, the court said the emails were beyond the reach of U.S. domestic search warrants issued under a 1986 law called the Stored Communications Act.

The Microsoft case is the second that the justices have agreed to hear in their current term that touches upon privacy rights in the digital age and the sheer amount of data on customers that companies now hold. The other case concerns whether police officers need a warrant to access historic location information on cell phone users that is held by wireless carriers.

Rulings in both cases are due by the end of June.

Final Words

I’m excited and I can’t wait until June because this really could change a lot. The problem is that it doesn’t answer the final question if bigger companies like Apple, Microsoft & Co. really can be forced for each country to hand over their data separately, I mean it doesn’t help to create a new data center in another country when they easily could make a duplicate and hand it over or even worse send it away over insecure channels which could be ‘compromised’.

We need really an universal rule what happens with the data, were to store and who really is responsible in case if there is a security breach but we are still far away from an answer to this important questions.



  • The CLOUD Act: A Dangerous Expansion of Police Snooping on Cross-Border Data (
  • What’s at stake in the Microsoft Supreme Court case (

  • US-Höchstgericht zeigt sich in Microsoft-Fall gespalten zu Datenzugriff im Ausland (

  • United States v. Microsoft Corp. (
  • Microsoft v. United States (2016 lawsuit) (