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The Cloud Conundrum: Explaining Divergent Google, Microsoft Search Warrant Rulings

Posted By Administration, Thursday, February 16, 2017

One of the clearest indications that technology is far outpacing the law came on Feb. 3, when Google Inc.’s motion to quash federal search warrants for user email data the company stored overseas was rejected by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Just a few months prior on Sep. 5, 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that search warrants under Section 2703 of the Stored Communications Act (SCA)—the same warrants served to Google—could not compel Microsoft to disclose its user email data stored in Ireland.

The Second Circuit’s decision, cited by Google in its own motion, was not without contention. On Jan. 24, the court denied a request for a rehearing in a deadlocked 4-4 vote.

But while the divergent rulings mean courts are far from any definitive guidance on what rights the U.S. government has to request and access corporate data stored overseas, they do provide counsel with some direction on how to minimize risk of such seizures, as well as highlight the specific legal complexities at play when considering such requests.

Read the whole story at National Law Journal

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