Update: Google and Microsoft Cases: Know Where Your Data Is!

Posted by Holger Dyroff – 29. August 2017

All the way back in February (where has the time gone?) I posted a blog, Threats to your Data in the Trump Age, where I outlined possible threats to your data, including a recent ruling against Google and a Microsoft case that was still in the court system.

In early February “a U.S. judge has ordered Google to hand over emails stored outside the country in order to comply with an FBI search warrant.”  The main argument was that Google can’t tell exactly where the data is, which means that it is considered to be in the United States and, therefore, needs to be handed over.

This again shows how essential it is to know where your data is at all times!

However, Microsoft knows that the data is in Ireland, so the ruling was upheld by a very close 4-4 vote.  It is expected that the US government will make a move to bring the case to the supreme court where it can be reconsidered. Alternatively, there are rumors that the administration will just change the respective law and clarify that US companies are forced to hand over data even if they know it is located elsewhere.

This post will provide an update on these cases.

Google’s Ruling Upheld

Google has also been continuing to fight against handing over data stored on foreign servers. They have appealed their case, however the ruling remains the same. According to Daniel R. Stoller’s article in Bloomberg BNA, Google Must Turn Over Data Stored Abroad Sought Under U.S. Warrant:

Judge Richard Seeborg of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California Aug. 14 upheld a magistrate judge’s order denying Google’s motion to quash the warrant. Google must turn over all content that is “accessible, searchable, and retrievable from the” U.S. pursuant to the lawful warrant under the Stored Communications Act (SCA), Seeborg said. The SCA warrant, served on U.S.-based Google, was a “domestic application of the statute” because the data is “easily and lawfully” accessed and disclosed in the U.S., he said. Also, the “conduct relevant” to the warrant occurred in the U.S., he said.

Microsoft’s Case Drags On

Microsoft has been fighting the US Department of Justice since 2013 over access to emails stored in Ireland while a drug case investigation. Microsoft claimed that the Electronic Communications Privacy Act did not apply to data stored in foreign countries, however, the initially lost the case in the lower court system. Upon repealing their case in the Second Circuit, the ruling last July was in Microsoft’s favor. But the Department of Justice fought on, petitioning the Supreme Court to hear the case.

Kate Conger’s article on Gizmodo, Justice Department Tries to Take Microsoft Email Warrant Fight to Supreme Court states:

If the Supreme Court agrees to hear the case, its decision will have wide-ranging affects on the way the tech industry stores user data and the way law enforcement accesses it, both in the US and abroad.

But if the Supreme Court doesn’t take the case, the appeals court ruling will stand, and the tech industry’s lobbying effort to get Congress to change a 31-year-old law will accelerate.

Know Where Your Data Is

These current battles of who should have access to your data is a pure horror story! Now, more than ever, it remains essential to know where your data is. Also, remember the preparations for the new General Data Protection Regulation continues and will be finished in early 2018.  You can be fined up to 4% of your annual revenue under those new regulations.

Federate the Cloud

With ownCloud, our users never need to worry about data-transfer restrictions. ownCloud can connect federated servers in multiple geographic locations into a single user experience for seamless collaboration. Federated File Sharing provides frictionless file sharing across multiple ownCloud servers, while maintaining the security, control and attributes of the original server as set up by IT – and leaving the master file copy on the originating ownCloud server.

CIO Agenda Webinar Series

If you are worried about where your data is being stored during this battle over data, join us for our new CIO Agenda Webinar Series. This webinar series covers current IT topics, use cases and showcases recommendations and best practices for CIOs and their teams to face today’s digital transformation challenges.

Each webinar will not take longer than 10 minutes and will focus on:

If you are interested in the webinar, but can’t participate at the given time please register to receive a link to the playback shortly after the webinar.