May 2nd, 2014
Courts in the USA have told Microsoft that they must hand over data (email communications) they are holding on servers based overseas in Dublin, Ireland. The warrant was issued under a US law called Stored Communications Act, which allows the US government to search and seize stored data. Microsoft said that it didn’t extend beyond the “territorial limits of the United States”, but a judge has rejected this and order that the data is handed over. Microsoft has said that they will appeal this judgement – but this could have grave implications for data protection for all.
In order to obtain your data the US law enforcement agencies only have to show “probable cause” to a magistrate – which is hybrid search warrant / subpoena. This quote different to if US law enforcement wanted to search your premises –for this they would have to apply to the local courts of the country and obtain a search warrant. In part justifying his ruling, the judge said that this process was “slow and laborious”.
This follows on from whistle-blower Edward Snowden numerous revelations over the past couple of years about how the US government is spying, they have come under greater scrutiny regarding the way in which they operates it’s data privacy practices when it comes to US corporate business.
A lot of global business owners do not realise just how much US law varies to EU law, especially when it comes to data privacy when they are signing up to CRM software from companies based in the USA to store their business data on the likes of Google, Sales Force, Netsuite, Amazon to name a few.
The impact of this means that if the US government want access to your company data that you have stored with a US company then there is nothing you can do to stop them taking it! It doesn’t matter where your data is stored around the world they can get to it.
The key reason for this is that US authorities can exercise powers to search through electronic data stored by US companies on foreign-based servers, a US judge has said.
Back in 1998 US and EU established the Safe Harbour Agreement http://export.gov/safeharbor/ to protect EU nationals and businesses giving US authorities the right to access data stored by European business. With all the recent revelations there have been calls to relook at this agreement – but that may be still some time away. Until then, keep your data with British and European companies – who are held to much higher standards of data protection.
Author: Claire Hibbert, icomplete.com – UK based online CRM and Marketing services
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