Today, more than a billion people around the world trust American “cloud” service providers such as Amazon, Google, IBM, and Microsoft to safeguard their private emails and other data in hundreds of high-security datacenters. This new paradigm combines the highest data security with nearly instantaneous data access from anywhere in the world.
That worldwide access has led the U.S. Government to assert that a statute permits it to order American “cloud” service providers, via a court-approved search warrant, to gather and hand over to the Government the private e-mails of customers whose e-mails are stored in a datacenter in any foreign country, despite the normal presumption against extraterritorial effect of U.S. laws. The Government has argued (1) the American company can access those emails without taking any actions in that foreign country, (2) the American company could store all e-mails outside the U.S. and defeat U.S. law enforcement needs, and (3) the emails can be accessed from anywhere and moved anywhere so they in effect have no specific location.
This issue is now before the U.S. Supreme Court, set for oral argument on February 27, because Microsoft disagreed that the statute gave the Government such control over foreign-stored data, and refused to hand over e-mails stored in its datacenter in Dublin, Ireland.
On January 17, 2018, Klarquist Sparkman LLP filed on behalf of 51 Computer Scientists an amicus curiae brief in support of Microsoft to explain to the Justices the science and engineering behind “cloud” data storage and access. The computer scientists explain the following salient points:
Link to the brief.