A federal magistrate judge denied Microsoft’s motion to quash a federal warrant for the search and seizure of information from a web-based email account stored on one of the company’s Irish servers. In Re Warrant to Search a Certain E-Mail Account Controlled and Maintained by Microsoft Corp., No. 13 Mag. 2814 (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 25, 2014). Microsoft had previously produced certain non-content information (e.g., the user’s name and address) stored on its servers in the United States, but moved to quash the remainder of a Stored Communications Act (SCA) § 2703(a) warrant on the grounds that federal courts lack authority to issue such warrants for property outside the United States.
However, the court found that a “warrant” issued pursuant to the SCA, obtained like a search warrant by application to a neutral magistrate judge, should be treated like a subpoena “in that it is served on the [Internet Service Provider (ISP)] in possession of the information and does not involve government agents entering the premises of the ISP to search its servers and seize the e-mail account in question. . . . It has long been the law that a subpoena requires the recipient to produce information in its possession, custody, or control regardless of the location of that information.” Therefore, Microsoft was ordered to produce information within its control to the government regardless of where the information was stored.