US government says data stored overseas isn't protected by the Fourth Amendment

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apple, microsoft, cisco, verizon, united states, fourth amendment, sca, stored communications act, mutual legal assistance treaty

Back in May, a judge in New York ruled that search warrants for digital content stored by US companies apply whether that data is held on servers overseas or not. Even after Microsoft and other major tech companies publicly expressed concerns with the ruling, citing far reaching negative implications, the US government has now filed documents reaffirming its position on the matter.

The government said that online data does not have the same Fourth Amendment rights as physical content as per the Stored Communications Act (SCA) "and Microsoft is mistaken to argue that the SCA provides for an overseas search here. As there is no overseas search or seizure, Microsoft's reliance on principles of extra-territoriality and comity falls wide of the mark."

Microsoft wasn't alone in its concerns with the ruling. Apple, Verizon and Cisco were also opposed to the decision saying there could be potentially serious damage done to international relations and could cause a number of conflicts with existing protection laws. The groups also suggested the US seek international treaties with foreign nations, but the government has suggested that actions of this nature just aren't practical in some cases, according to reports.

The initial ruling was based on an ongoing investigation which required access to a Microsoft user's email account in Ireland. The Irish Supreme Court's senior counsel seems to agree with the US tech companies, suggesting a "Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty"  between the US and Ireland as the most appropriate way for US officials to obtain the data they require.

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