Microsoft joins Justice Department in asking Supreme Court to drop data privacy case

Microsoft logo at Ignite
Microsoft logo at Ignite (Image credit: Windows Central)

Microsoft today followed the Justice Department in calling on the U.S. Supreme Court to dismiss a privacy case it is currently considering. In a court filing, reported by Reuters, Microsoft stated that it agrees with a Justice Department filing from over the weekend that the case should be dismissed in light of a new law passed by Congress that would render the ruling moot.

"Microsoft agrees with the government that there is no longer a live case or controversy between the parties with respect to the question presented," Microsoft writes in the filing.

The legal fight in question goes back to 2013, when government served Microsoft with a domestic warrant requesting emails stored at a data center in Ireland. Microsoft argued that U.S. law doesn't grant the government the right to access private information stored abroad, and that law enforcement should work with Irish authorities instead. The government argued that Microsoft should have to comply with the warrant because it is headquartered in the U.S. In 2016, an appeals court sided with Microsoft.

However, now, both the Justice Department and Microsoft argue that the Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data Act (CLOUD Act), which was recently signed into law, eliminates the need for a court ruling by providing a legal framework that clarifies the government's right to issue warrants for data stored overseas by U.S. companies. The Justice Department says that it has obtained a new warrant under the new law.

Both parties supported the CLOUD Act's, and Microsoft, in particular, was quite vocal that it was Congress' duty to take action to clarify the law. "The CLOUD Act both creates the foundation for a new generation of international agreements and preserves rights of cloud service providers like Microsoft to protect privacy rights until such agreements are in place," Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith said in a blog post today.

Dan Thorp-Lancaster

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the former Editor-in-Chief of Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl