back to article Ireland: Hey, you. America. Hands off Microsoft's email cloud servers

The Irish government today supported Microsoft in its ongoing fight against US prosecutors – who appear to want access to server hard drives anywhere in the world. Microsoft has garnered serious backing from the technology industry in its case against American investigators. The Feds believe they have the right to access …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    God Bless Ireland

    Perhaps just a glimmering of sanity for the New Year ?

    We can only hope.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: God Bless Ireland

      Props to Microsoft and their supporters too for standing their ground on this one!

      1. NogginTheNog

        Re: God Bless Ireland

        Props to Microsoft and their supporters too for standing their ground on this one!

        As was mentioned at the end of the article, I don't think Microsoft et al have a choice but to fight this, as the potential effects on their worldwide businesses could be disastrous!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: God Bless Ireland

        The Feds believe they have the right to access emails stored on Microsoft's servers in Ireland; Uncle Sam Obama thinks it he can lawfully tap up any US company for information, regardless of where that info is stored.

        There. Fixed it for ya.

        Let's not forget that Obama first authorized, and repeatedly supported, this attempt to grab overseas data.

  2. LazarusLong

    This, and Google's fight against the MPAA/Hood are important.

    It's really a scary how the future of the internet is being decided haphazardly by court cases in the USA and EU, mostly based on lobbyist of various persuasions suing Google.

    1. Gordon 10

      Re: This, and Google's fight against the MPAA/Hood are important.

      Or on behalf of lobbyist organisations bought and paid for by Google neither of which are particularly relevant to this case

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: This, and Google's fight against the MPAA/Hood are important.

        Give amurrica a FATCA shrug, a PNR deal, a SWIFT data snoop wink, and they want to finger your anus anywhere in the world.

        And they will.

    2. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: This, and Google's fight against the MPAA/Hood are important.

      Google funds far more lobbying and astroturf than its competition across various industries. Google is now the biggest corporate funder of political activity in the USA.

      I doubt you would support a smear campaign against Hood and his silencing using lawsuits by Goldman Sachs, or Microsoft, but maybe you would.

      I'm sorry I knocked your conspiracy theory over, I can see how that hurts, and that you want it back.

      1. Sirius Lee

        Re: This, and Google's fight against the MPAA/Hood are important.

        @AO Leaping in here after the article you wrote on the Hood saga anyone would think States Attorney Hood is a friend of yours or something. I know the axe you are grinding does just have Google written on it because you take wild swings at WikiPedia as well. So what's you gripe?

  3. Mark 85

    Will we (the US) now invade Ireland?

    If so, I wonder if I can re-join the Marines just to be sent there and drink some beer?

    On the serious side, I'm surprised Ireland didn't push for a warrant valid in Ireland. They imply it but just asked the US to follow procedures... I hope a "screw off until you get us a warrant valid here" statement will be forthcoming.

    1. Gordon 10

      Re: Will we (the US) now invade Ireland?

      One suspects that if the US were serious about this particular case they would have been happy to go the treaty route already - that they haven't suggests this has always been about establishing a precedent for doing an end run around international treaties and laws

      1. Mark 85

        Re: Will we (the US) now invade Ireland?

        If the government does that, then they've screwed themselves. I believe that there is nothing stopping MS, Google, FB, etc. from spinning of a subsidiary corporation for the sole purpose of owning bit barns in the country of choice.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Will we (the US) now invade Ireland?

          Microsoft Ireland is already a separate company in order to meet Eu data protection laws. The US court decided that since it was ultimately under Microsoft's control it could be ordered around by a US court.

          It's like a court in Switzerland deciding that since a swiss bank is in ultimate control of the loans to the local bank that has your mortgage then Swiss police have a right to enter your home without a warrant.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Does anyone, besides Microsoft and the courts, know the citizenry of the suspect? There's a huge difference in the eyes of the Constitution sadly.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "There's a huge difference in the eyes of the Constitution sadly."

      The data is still held in Ireland, a sovereign state not covered by the US constitution. It doesn't really matter all that much what nationality the data subject is or where s/he is currently living. The data is on Irish soil and the US can't just barge in and take it without following the agreed procedures as laid down in the treaties.

      The nationality of the data subject may have a bearing on how agreeable the Irish are to give up the data if said procedures are followed but after the US attempts to ignore the treaty, the Irish may decide to treat the data with the full protections allowed under Irish and EU law and demand the US provide evidence not just a warrant.

  5. tom dial Silver badge

    Orin Kerr, a law professor knowledgeable about Constitutional and legal privacy issues, has written a couple of times about this as part of the Volokh Conspiracyy:

    and Michael Vatis of the Steptoe and Johnson law firm comments on this and the Verizon amicus brief here:

    These might be of interest to those interested in going beyond mere opinion about what ought to be.

    1. Martin-73 Silver badge

      There's not really anything to that anyone familiar with USAnian law can add to this, the bits in question aren't *IN* the US, and aren't subject to its laws.

      1. tom dial Silver badge

        Someone familiar with US law can, in fact, contribute to a proper understanding of the laws that govern the controversy that is being litigated in a US court. As the government of Ireland apparently recognizes, inasmuch as they have submitted an amicus brief on the matter to the US court.

        One assumes that if the US government ultimately loses in the US courts, they will try to attain their objective via the international law enforcement assistance agreements, but for now they seem to be pursuing the US warrant approach on the theory that Microsoft can be compelled, under US law, to provide the access to data it manages, irrespective of its storage location. I do not think this represents good policy, but it may represent good law. The law, in the case at hand, is rather old and probably needs revisions to adjust to technological change over the last quarter century or so.

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

          Yes, Lord Vader

          > on the theory that an Irish company called "Microsoft" can be compelled, under US law, to provide the access because it bears the same name as a US-based company

          > it may represent good law

          Only if you have reason to think you are The World Empire.

    2. ckm5

      What Mr. Kerr's entire treatise seems to be missing is that there is a legally binding agreement between the United States and Ireland, one that has been approved by Congress and signed by the President.

      The question here is not whether a warrant applies overseas but if the prosecution is required to go through the (legally binding) treaty rather than standard US law.

      If the courts eventually rule that treaties can be ignored, then there are a whole raft of implications as international treaties would basically be null & void under US law. Never mind that the courts would have effectively taken away Congress' ability to vote treaties into law.

      The downside implications of this are massive, to say the least. But the courts have shown a callous disregard for the downside impacts of their decisions (cf. Citizen United) in favor of ideology...

      1. tom dial Silver badge

        Re: post by ckm5: The question before the court appears to be whether, under US law, the US court can issue a valid order to Microsoft in the US to produce data that it controls but has stored on a foreign server, in this case in Ireland. The alternative presumably is for the US law enforcement agency to request under the MLAT that Irish authorities compel Microsoft in Ireland to produce the data. Most of the discussion, at least in this thread, seems to assume implicitly that the Irish authorities would deny the request, something that might or might not be true.

        Whatever the interaction between the details of US law and the MLAT, it certainly is in Microsoft's business interest that the decision fall on the side of denying the validity of the present warrant and forcing use of the MLAT. However, it might be going a bit far to say that if the decision goes the other way it is a ruling that treaties can be ignored. Both the law and the treaty depend on language that likely is a bit imprecise and ambiguous in matters of computer stored data, and it is possible that underlying Irish and European law has problems as well; this could be a reason that US authorities sought to short cut the process with a US warrant.

  6. pro-logic

    In a way I hope that the US government "wins" this case (even though it'll mean everybody loses) to force MS to retrieve the data from it's international servers. Just to see what other countries do when it happens.

    I'm curious... will other countries roll over and say "Ok, well that was nice, here is my data stash Uncle Sam" or will the community go "Well up yours, we're cutting off internet access to the US until you get used to the idea of national boundaries"

    1. Peter2 Silver badge

      Won't happen.

      What would happen is that there would be a great storm, and clouds would start raining into on premises servers.

    2. BrownishMonstr

      I, too, hope the USGov wins. But in my dream, the American companies, lose the faith of EU citizens and governments, oh and quite a bit of money and hopefully this F's up the World Police, I mean USA.

  7. RISC OS

    Basically ireland are saying...

    ...we don't want to take it in the arse but are to scared to say "swivel on it", so hopefully stick to existing legal routes - the kind the yanks normally ignore when they feel like it, if that still isn't ok... it's touch your toes time for leprechauns.

    1. Rightsaidfred

      Re: Basically ireland are saying...

      You Freds have been taking it it from the yanks for 60 years.

  8. DavCrav

    "Microsoft has made it clear that it will fight the case all the way to the US Supreme Court if necessary. While it has framed this as a privacy argument there's also a strong business case: if the US gets its way, it will kill American cloud businesses, as those customers who don't want US law enforcement snooping though their files on a whim will avoid US companies completely."

    It would kill it for a different reason than people moving their business: it would make US-based cloud providers illegal in the EU, under data protection legislation. That's a proper death, much more than people not liking them.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Emotive journalism?

    I'd say so.

    They can't snoop on the data 'at will' - they still have to file for warrants, etc.

    Get a grip man, this isn't the fucking Sun.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: Get a grip

      Yeah, do that. You haven't been paying attention this year, have you ?

      The NSA officially has jurisdiction over the whole world now, from Washington's point of view at least (other countries tend to disagree, but the White House doesn't even pretend to give a flying one over that anymore).

      It's only inside the USA that the NSA officially still needs a warrant, but the NSA does whatever it wants anyway since there is no serious oversight of its activity.

    2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Emotive journalism?

      Get a grip man, this isn't the fucking Sun.

      Indeed, it's the fucking Sam.

      That uncle is right up there with Jimmy Savile in the unhealthy department.

  10. Zot

    So if the Houses of Parliament are now using the latest MS Word for documents...

    ...and have switched to cloud storage...does this matter?

    1. Adrian 4

      Re: So if the Houses of Parliament are now using the latest MS Word for documents...

      Not really. The H of P rolled over years ago.

      It's laughable that some politicians claim to object to the EU (in which they can vote) 'telling us what to do' but seem to have no problem being America's bitch.

  11. W. Anderson

    Limited and skewed perspectives expressed

    Two pertinent perspectives missing from many of the comments to this article are:

    (a) most assume that possible decision ramifications in this case will be restricted to Europe "only", and

    (b) that European and other International jurisdictions are "easy pushovers" for complying with US Government "strong Arm" political/diplomatic tactics.

    There is good evidence from the reactions of many very large International organizations and companies, as well as governments that there is likely to be a great shift"away from" use of "US" owned and/or controlled Data Centers and ISPs, even in foreign locations.

    If the US Congress revises Trade/Communications and International treaty laws (unilaterally) to allow demand of data from any entity in USA that communicates overseas, then everyone in the world must wait to see what such imperialistic moves might produce.

    Most Americans unfortunately have a very limited worthwhile experience or good understanding of the "realities" that exist in 2014 - 2015 regarding their own country's practical and true (fact based) relationship to the rest of the globe, and make assumptions and decisions - many times erroneous - based solely on US media reports and 'bravado' rhetoric of their politicians/diplomats and talking heads as reported by said US media.

    Reality could not be more different.

  12. Harry Anslinger

    Best Practice: avoid US SaaS companies and US based servers entirely

    Given the clear insidious exploitation of Internet infrastructure by US intelligence gathering agencies, any company that uses US based SaaS services or stores corporate data on US based servers is failing their security and fiduciary duties to their shareholders. No US company or server can be considered as all data and communications will be available to the NSA and potentially misused by other US government agencies.

    1. tom dial Silver badge

      Re: Best Practice: avoid US SaaS companies and US based servers entirely

      Why would anyone think the NSA (or GCHQ, CSEC, ASD, or any other SIGINT agency) would pay any attention to where data are stored, other than as governed by the laws of their country?

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        The Law is an Ass and Banana Republic Tool of Suppression and Aide to Oppression?

        Why would anyone think the NSA (or GCHQ, CSEC, ASD, or any other SIGINT agency) would pay any attention to where data are stored, other than as governed by the laws of their country? …. Tom Dial


        Why would anyone think that any quite normally and abnormally curious SIGINT/COMINT/ELINT agency, no matter from where its IT Plundering and MetaDataBase Exploitation Expertise for the Discovery and Recovery/Engagement and Recruitment of New Veins of Expert Tease and Masterclass Alien Control of Creative CyberSpace Command Platforms/InterNetional Space Stations, be governed by laws of countries?

        Such is just a phantastical delusion and is never ever to be a possible reality, for the laws of countries are designed to protect the wealth and lives of the few from the hopes and dreams of the many and aspirants. And whenever such is considered and recognised in such circles with quite normally and abnormally curious SIGINT/COMINT/ELINT agencies, as being corrupt and divisive and perverse and a totally unnecessary, conflict producing burden of titanic catastrophic dimension, would it be foolish and naive to not imagine that it be systematically systemically targeted for virtual destruction and practical obliteration.

        It is what such agencies and secret intelligence services do in order to survive and justify their being to the few and the masses and the Mass Few Commanding Control.

        1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

          Re: The Law is an Ass and Banana Republic Tool of Suppression and Aide to Oppression?

          Just in case one cannot be bothered to Google for what one might not know, and therefore be in total ignorance of, please click here for clarification on SIGINT/COMINT/ELINT.

  13. Ex-Softie

    Location of servers or corporate headquarters doesn't matter in a connected world

    Local law enforcement rocks up at a company's office with a legal document which says to someone in in IT "You have access to a server. If you don't give us access to the data we want you will be arrested and may well go to jail". The employee will cave. If a state looks to apply sanctions against a company those who run it may stand up for a principle and contest the legal basis of the demand.

    What the Irish government can and should do is demand Microsoft (or Google or Apple, or any of the others who use it as a tax haven) hand over data relating to US citizens on stored on US soil or their Irish employees go to jail or their Irish subsidiaries - where all revenue is directed to dodge corporation tax in the UK , France , Germany, etc. - will have to pay massive fines. Only then will countries start to address the question of how data accessible from their territory but stored off shore, (especially data relating to citizens of other countries ) may and may not be accessed.

    1. Adrian 4

      Re: Location of servers or corporate headquarters doesn't matter in a connected world

      So what if local (irish) law enforcement rolls up and threatens datacentre employees in a similar way, except that the requirement is to secure the data ?

  14. Tail Up

    Calling Goldfish .... On AIModerate Wave

    There once was I, and the learned cat (-:

    As near him 'neath the oak I sat

    And drank of sweet mead at my leisure

    Told me full many tales...

    A piece of excellent art - , in order to clarify on the environment.

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