Microsoft Pushes Back Against Gov't Requests to Mine Foreign Data Servers

Posted by Global 1 Resources on 13th May 2015

According to a recent report from popular tech website Mashable, Microsoft continues its challenge to the mass surveillance policies of the United States government. In December 2013, Microsoft received a warrant requesting information that instructed the technology giant to turn over all data stored within the e-mail account of an Outlook user to the federal government. Outlook is a third-party e-mail application that allows users to link all of their accounts to one main hub.

Under normal circumstances, Microsoft may have capitulated, but this isn't a normal circumstance. The data center racks housing the data the government is interested in are not located in the United states. Rather, they're part of a farm of computer racks in Ireland. Because the server rack enclosures and the servers within are not on U.S. soil, Microsoft contends that it has no responsibility to provide the government with information from a country it has no authority over.

Just Another Example of Government Overreach

This isn't the first time the U.S. government has tried to pull information from computer racks housing data from those living in other countries. In fact, if Microsoft had given up the information, it wouldn't have been the first time federal surveillance bodies, like the NSA, have succeeded in such an endeavor -- just ask Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany, who had her phone tapped and data stolen by the NSA. It's all part of a mass surveillance program that many media outlets, like, report has yielded more data than any of the agencies can hope to read through and fully analyze.

Microsoft Hopes to Hold the Gov't at Bay until Reforms Pass

Despite a recent Supreme Court decision that makes it illegal for law enforcement officials to search cellphones without a warrant, agencies still seemingly have carte blanche with which to obtain information housed in other devices. Microsoft doesn't really need to win its case against the powers that be as much as it needs to wait for government reform to happen. As the American Civil Liberties Union reports on its website, a groundswell of political opinion in Congress will likely mean an end to the abusive, Orwellian tactics of the NSA and other agencies in the near future.
And that will undoubtedly be a good thing for all tech companies and their customers, whether their data is stored in computer racks across the pond or in the States.