Published: Tue, October 17, 2017
Entertaiment | By Simon Arnold

Supreme Court won't take case of alleged USS Cole mastermind

Supreme Court won't take case of alleged USS Cole mastermind

A Supreme Court ruling could overturn the ruling or affirm it - either way, it would cement into place the reach of the Stored Communications Act.

It comes after Microsoft refused to hand over emails during a USA drug trafficking investigation on the basis the police's warrant did not extend to Ireland, where the messages were stored. "Hundreds if not thousands of investigations of crimes-ranging from terrorism, to child pornography, to fraud-are being or will be hampered by the government's inability to obtain electronic evidence", the government argued.

Microsoft urged the court not to hear the case, saying the justices should leave it to Congress to update the 1986 law and deal with the many complexities that surround worldwide electronic data storage.

USA authorities strongly criticized Microsoft's refusal, arguing "hundreds if not thousands of investigations. will be hampered".

At issue is whether the emails are beyond the reach of domestic search warrants issued under the Stored Communications Act, the Washington Post, the New York Times, Bloomberg News and the National Law Journal (sub. req.) report.

In December 2013, the USA government issued a warrant in connection with an ongoing criminal narcotics investigation to seize data contained in an email account of a Microsoft customer. In 2014, the court ruled that police need a warrant to search a cellphone seized during an arrest.

"Neither explicitly nor implicitly does the statute envision the application of its warrant provisions overseas", Judge Susan Carney wrote.

The Justice Department asked the Supreme Court to reverse the lower courts.

"The decision provides a roadmap for terrorists and criminals in the United States to insulate electronic communications from USA investigators", Wall argued. We intend to share this view with the Supreme Court as it confronts this important issue.

In the appeals court, Microsoft was supported by dozens of technology and media companies including Amazon, Apple, CNN and Verizon Communications, as well as the American Civil Liberties Union and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce business group. Microsoft refused to turn over the emails associated with the account, which were stored on servers in Ireland, spurring a legal battle that has dragged on for four years.

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