US judge rules against Microsoft in email privacy case

The company is compelled to comply with a US warrant for emails held in Ireland, a judge rules

A U.S. district court judge has ruled against Microsoft in the company's effort to oppose a U.S. government search warrant for emails stored in Ireland.

On Thursday, Judge Loretta Preska of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York rejected the company's appeal of an earlier ruling requiring it to turn over emails stored in the company's facility in Dublin. Preska ruled that Microsoft will not have to turn over the emails while it files an appeal.

Preska, in an oral ruling from the bench, sided with a magistrate judge's April ruling quashing Microsoft's opposition to the warrant, related to a criminal case, from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Microsoft will appeal Preska's ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, the company said. Microsoft has argued that the DOJ has no authority to issue warrants related to emails stored outside the U.S.

"The only issue that was certain this morning was that the district court's decision would not represent the final step in this process," Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith said in a statement. "We will appeal promptly and continue to advocate that people's email deserves strong privacy protection in the U.S. and around the world."

U.S. law has long required search warrants to name the specific location of the information they seek, instead of requiring a company receiving the warrant to search multiple locations for the information, as has happened in the Ireland case, Microsoft has argued. U.S. search warrants also haven't been able to reach overseas, just as U.S. residents wouldn't want foreign courts to be able to search domestic locations, Smith has said.U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara of the Southern District of New York has opposed Microsoft's attempts to invalidate the warrant. If Microsoft's interpretation of the law is upheld, Web services providers could move content around the world in an effort to avoid law enforcement requests, Bharara wrote in a brief to the court.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's email address is

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Internet-based applications and servicesCivil lawsuitsLoretta PreskagovernmentinternetprivacyU.S. District Court for the Southern DistrictPreet BhararaMicrosoftsecurityBrad SmithMaillegal

More about Department of JusticeDOJIDGMicrosoft

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Grant Gross

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    IDG Live Webinar:The right collaboration strategy will help your business take flight

    Speakers - Mike Harris, Engineering Services Manager, Jetstar - Christopher Johnson, IT Director APAC, 20th Century Fox - Brent Maxwell, Director of Information Systems, THE ICONIC - IDG MC/Moderator Anthony Caruana

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts