FBI Orders Google To Hand Over Foreign Emails

Google have to hand over all the foreign emails to FBI. A US judge ordered Google to hand over the emails stored outside the country. The tech giant has no other option than complying with FBI search warrant. FBI brought up the search warrant in an internal fraud probe. It is against the appeals court judgment last year.

It says foreign Microsoft foreign US servers are holding on customer data. Initially, the federal court ruled the ruled that the company didn’t have to hand over data stored on its servers in Ireland. The US judge puts it as a “disregard the presumption against extraterritoriality”.

FBI warrant against Google

The FBI issued a warrant on a fraud case. Google argues they are storing emails on remote servers. Thus, the authorities should not seize the data. Countering this argument, FBI said, transferring emails to another server for investigation by FBI is not a seizure. It is a potential invasion of privacy. In Philadelphia, Magistrate Judge Thomas Reuter stated, “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”. He ruled that there is “no meaningful interference” with the account holder’s possessory interest while seeking to access data.

Well, Google is not happy with this. The company said, “The magistrate, in this case, departed from precedent, and we plan to appeal the decision. We will continue to push back on overbroad warrants”. The legal team of Google sought to use up the Microsoft’s case to challenge the warrant’s scope. And this is why Google will challenge the order. In both the cases of Google and Microsoft, the order is based on 1986 federal law known as the Stored Communications Act. The act is termed “outdated” legislation. Because the technology used is much more upgraded now.

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Will it bring a new change in law?

In Microsoft’s case, the judge wrote, that the law was, “overdue for a congressional revision that would continue to protect privacy but would more effectively balance concerns of international comity with law enforcement needs and service provider obligations in the global context in which this case arose”. Now the department is indeed applying pressure on the Congress in multiple cases. It will question where the line is to be drawn on extraterritoriality applications to get access to stored data.

It seems like these sorts of cases will come more and more in future. The laws applied in these sectors needs reconsideration. Both Microsoft and Google cases are based on a law of 1986, which is almost 30 years old. And this is why it needs revision. Some critics also say a procedural change was used to push through the hugely expanded power for the state agents.

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