Date: Wednesday, March 15th, 2017, 05:32
Category: Amazon, Apple, Google, iOS, Legal, Microsoft, News, security
Apple has joined Amazon and Microsoft in a court filing which supports Google’s decision to resist an FBI warrant demanding that it hand over emails stored outside the USA. The tech companies argue that this would set a ‘troubling’ precedent.
As reported, the FBI served search warrants ordering Google to surrender emails belonging to suspects in a criminal investigation. The emails themselves were stored on a server outside the USA. Google, in turn, refused, arguing that a domestic search warrant could not apply to data stored in a foreign country.
A Pennsylvania court both disagreed and instructed Google to comply with the warrant. Google has since appealed the ruling, with Apple, Amazon and Microsoft jointly filing an amicus brief in support of Google.
The filing does not suggest that the government is necessarily wrong to seek to extend the law to data stored overseas, but rather argues that the current law does not permit this, and it is for Congress – and not the courts – to make this call.
The brief also offers the following comment:
This case addresses the reach of the Stored Communications Act, 18 U.S.C. § 2701 et seq., which Congress enacted as part of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986. Technology has changed dramatically since the SCA became law. The Congress that drafted the SCA could barely have imagined the notion of storing emails halfway across the globe. That is why companies, commentators, and privacy advocates alike have long called for the SCA to be updated in light of the realities of 21st century technology. The question here, however, is the scope of the SCA as it now stands, not as Congress might eventually revise it.
The tech companies have argued that Congress should carefully consider the implications of how it applies U.S. search warrants to data held in other countries.
More than a year ago, Apple resisted the FBI itself in the San Bernardino shooting case, refusing to create a weakened version of iOS that would allow access to an iPhone – and Google filed an amicus brief supporting Apple in that case.
Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.