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U.S. Judge Orders Microsoft to Turn Over Emails Stored in Ireland

Microsoft must turn over a customer's emails stored in a data center in Ireland to the U.S. government, a U.S. judge ruled on Thursday in a case that has drawn concern from privacy groups and major technology companies. Microsoft and other U.S. companies had challenged a criminal search warrant for the emails, arguing federal prosecutors cannot seize customer information held in foreign countries. But following a two-hour court hearing in New York, U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska said the warrant lawfully required the company to hand over any data it controlled, regardless of where it was stored. "It is a question of control, not a question of the location of that information," Preska said.

The judge said she would temporarily suspend her order from taking effect to allow Microsoft to appeal to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The case appears to be the first in which a corporation has challenged a U.S. search warrant seeking data held abroad. AT&T, Apple, Cisco Systems and Verizon Communications all submitted court briefs in support of Microsoft, along with the privacy group Electronic Frontier Foundation.

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— Reuters