Corporate lobbyists, news organizations and academics joined forces with Microsoft on Monday in the software company's legal battle with the U.S. government over access to customer data stored overseas. The diverse set of interests filed briefs with a federal appeals court in New York, urging it to reverse a judge's order that Microsoft turn over emails from a data center in Ireland. They argued that turning them over would jeopardize the future of international cloud computing. Technology companies including Apple and AT&T also filed briefs supporting Microsoft's bid to fend off a government search warrant for the emails.
Microsoft began fighting the warrant in 2013, saying that U.S. prosecutors were overreaching by demanding data held in a foreign country without the assistance of local authorities. It is not known whose emails are sought, but prosecutors said they wanted them for a drug investigation. The prosecutors said their demand did not violate Irish sovereignty because Microsoft's U.S. employees had control of the emails and could retrieve them without going to Ireland. In July, U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska agreed and ordered Microsoft to comply.
Others supporting Microsoft in court briefs included the American Civil Liberties Union and 35 computer science and engineering professors. A ruling by the appeals court is likely months away. The case is Microsoft v. U.S., 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 14-2985.