For the umpteenth time in the last couple of years, Microsoft is at it again—wedging a legal battle against the mighty USA government. In a July 31st ruling, Microsoft was allowed to appeal a case submitted by the US government to a New York District Court requesting for access to foreign emails kept in Microsoft’s Dublin data center. Following that appeal, Judge Loretta Preska ruled last Friday that the government could go ahead and retrieve the emails. However, instead of obliging to the court’s ruling, Microsoft has, in a shock move, declared that it won’t follow the court’s order.
In a statement shortly released after the ruling, a Microsoft spokesperson said, “We will appeal promptly and continue to advocate that people’s emails deserve strong privacy protection in the US and around the world.”
A lot of mixed reactions have been elicited since the ruling, with a majority of corporations seemingly supporting Microsoft’s bold move of refusing to provide the emails. Many foreign governments are of the opinion that protecting the privacy of various individuals and companies is important and warranted. The general consensus by the foreigners is that providing the emails would entail breaking privacy laws and raising security concerns among many users.
Other multinational media-related corporations such as Apple, Cisco, Verizon and Apple have thrown their weight behind Microsoft by arguing that obeying such a ruling could be morally detrimental and affect the trust of the billions of consumers across the globe. In effect, this would render their businesses irrelevant and non-profitable—something which they aren’t ready to contend with.
Furthermore, Microsoft has argued that the US government doesn’t have any legal authorities to meddle in issues related to data stored outside the USA. However, legal experts in the government argue that the US government has the mandate of requesting for such emails, especially if there is a precedence delineating that there is a threat which could directly or indirectly affect the nation or its residents.
For now, only time can tell who is going to emerge victorious from this battle. Having refused to hand over the emails will probably result in Microsoft being charged with contempt of court, thus paving the way for the company to be allowed to argue out its case This, of course, greatly swings the odds of winning in favor of the US government. Nevertheless, going by the bigwig multinational corporations and foreign dignitaries that are pro-Microsoft, it would be a big and risky gamble to bet against the renowned software company.