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Google Challenges Search Warrant Ruling

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Google is now planning to appeal a ruling that is made on Friday that it must has to comply with the search warrants involving the customer data stored on the servers outside of the United States. The case is very similar to an earlier one involving Microsoft. Back in July 2016, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York, said Microsoft could not be forced to turn over their emails that are stored on a server outside of US. Now, however, Magistrate Judge Thomas Rueter of Philadelphia has taken the opposite to the view with Google.

Both these cases involve search warrants that are issued under 1986 Stored Communications Act (SCA). The Microsoft has also initially ordered to comply. They appealed, and also eventually Judge Susan Carney of appeals court said that SCA does not give the US courts authority to force the internet companies in the United States to seize the customer email contents stored on the foreign servers. At that time, Brad Smith, the Microsoft chief legal officer said, “It makes clear that the US Congress didn’t give the US Government authority to use search warrants unilaterally to reach beyond the US borders.”

The Google has expected this precedent to be upheld in their own refusal to comply with a very similar search warrant. Government’s key argument is that there is no search undertaken on foreign soil; the data is brought back lawfully to the US, and that search is conducted lawfully within the US. For Google, this argument was accepted; but for Microsoft it has been rejected.

“Though the retrieval of the electronic data by Google from its multiple data centers abroad has the potential for an invasion of privacy, the actual infringement of privacy occurs at the time of disclosure in the United States,” Rueter wrote.

Google has said it will appeal the ruling. “The magistrate in this case departed from precedent, and we plan to appeal the decision. We will continue to push back on overbroad warrants,” it said in a statement.


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