In a decision that may have implications for the way US technology companies, and in particular data storage or “cloud” providers, do business with customers, who may include financial institutions, outside the United States, a federal district judge in New York has affirmed a magistrate judge’s decision that ordered Microsoft Corporation to produce, in response to a search warrant issued at the behest of US authorities, the contents of one of its customer’s e-mail accounts stored on a Microsoft server in Ireland. 

The decision needs to be considered in its context (the case related to a criminal investigation).   To view a more detailed e-bulletin on this case, please click here.

However, it also highlights some of the challenges faced by US service providers as they seek to negotiate a path between compliance with US law and the privacy demands of both their customers and authorities outside the US, particularly in Europe. 

The long-term, or even short-term, impact of the decision is uncertain.  The district court’s ruling is not binding on any other court, and the district court has stayed its ruling to enable Microsoft to appeal.