US Department of Justice seeks to overturn recent Microsoft ruling; allow search warrants to be served internationally

Posted on Jul 19, 2016 by Caleb Chen

In spite of a recent court ruling to the contrary, the US Government still wants to serve search warrants to companies outside of its legal national jurisdiction. According to a report by the WSJ, The Obama Administration recently revealed that they had been working on these agreements for some time, and the first such search warrant exchange program with the United Kingdom was finishing completion. Just days after the landmark decision, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) is already preparing to overturn the Microsoft ruling that protects data stored on non-United States servers from American warrants. Under the new proposed warrant exchange agreements, the US government could serve a warrant for stored information or real time wiretapping directly to a foreign company housed in an agreement accepting nation, and vice versa. The only redeeming caveat to this rule is that countries wouldn’t be able to serve search warrants regarding citizens of the target country, only non citizens.

United States to allow other countries to serve foreign search warrants to American Internet companies

The Obama Administration’s plans have a few hurdles in the way: the DOJ may appeal the Microsoft ruling to the US Supreme Court, and whatever agreements are made will still need to be approved by the legislature of both countries. By appealing the landmark case that Microsoft only recently won, the DOJ risks unleashing a pandora’s box of cross-border warrant serving. Currently, we only know of President Obama’s plans to set up cross-border search warrant reciprocity with the UK; however, there are more clandestine deals in the making – and even more data exchange mutual assistance legal treaties already exist.

Recent reshuffling of the UK leadership due to Brexit drama has all but assured that this proposed law will pass on that side of the pond. A government that is eager to force the end of end-to-end encryption will be more than willing to acquiesce to US data sharing demands. Privacy conscious Internet users have one realistic chance to stop this overreach of government power: halting the approval in Congress like we were able to do for the Anti-Terrorism Information Sharing Is Strength Act.

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  1. Jason

    The idiots we put in office need to get it through their head, as well as other heads of states, their laws end at their borders. You have no business or reasonable expectation that people have to follow your laws outside your border, even if citizens of your country. I should not have to follow US law or have US laws applied to me when in another country. So if I do something thats legal in the country Im in but illegal in the US, the US should have ZERO standing to be able to do anything about it.

    7 years ago
    1. bernlin2000

      Totally disagree: just because you’ve fled the country shouldn’t grant you immunity from your homeland laws, unless you’re willing to rescind your citizenship in the process.

      7 years ago
      1. DavidHollinger

        By that argument, what’s to prevent such an idea from being applied at the city and state level? At that level, I could be prosecuted by the state of KS for possessing Marijuana while in the state of Colorado, despite it being legal there, just because I’m still a ‘citizen’ if KS.

        Point is, no entity can enforce their laws on ANYONE outside their borders as laws aren’t applied to people, but to cities, States, provinces, nations, etc. What happens if a country won’t allow you to give up your citizenship?

        7 years ago
      2. Jason

        Were not talking about committing an illegal act in your country and fleeing to somewhere else. Its about each country has their own sovereignty within their borders and the laws of one country ends at their borders. If I travel to another country and something is legal there but illegal in my home country, I should be able to do that activity in the country I am in since its legal there.

        7 years ago