Apple Files Amicus Brief in Support Of Google’s Foreign Email Privacy Case

A host of internet and technology giants including Yahoo, Microsoft, and Apple have thrown their support behind Google, as it fights a Pennsylvania magistratical order to comply with search warrants in two criminal investigations, by turning over data stored on overseas servers.

According to a new report from Business Insider, the warrants were issued as part of two criminal investigations led by the FBI. In them, the government has demanded, among the other things, the “contents of three separate Google ‘Gmail’ email accounts,” despite Microsoft’s legal victory against a similar order last July, which limited the US Government’s ability to demand data located in foreign territories.

A Pennsylvania federal judge, however, ruled last month that the tech firm had to turn over data stored on overseas servers, arguing that since the suspects’ data would be “searched” on US soil, there would be no “extraterritoriality” to Google‘s compliance with the Stored Communications Act warrants.

Now, in a series of amicus briefs, corporations including Microsoft, Apple, Yahoo, Amazon, and Cisco wrote to complain about the February ruling in the Google case.

In the brief, the companies argue: “When a warrant seeks email content from a foreign data center, that invasion of privacy occurs outside the United States — in the place where the customers’ private communications are stored, and where they are accessed, and copied for the benefit of law enforcement, without the customer’s consent.”

Yahoo argued that the magistrate judge in February “improperly rewrote the SCA to create a hybrid warrant — setting off a chain of events that creates confusion, ignores international law and interests, and makes it more difficult for providers like Yahoo with subsidiaries that manage and control data outside the U.S. to honor their obligations to customers, the U.S., and the foreign countries in which they operate.”

“Our sister nations clearly view US warrants directing service providers to access, copy, and transmit to the United States data stored on servers located within their territory as an extraterritorial act on the part of the US government,” the brief continues.

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