Re: Yeah, but common sense, too...
" why in the hell should the police have to involve the government of another country just because the emails are located on some server there?"
They don't have to so why are they doing it?
There's no need to involve the government of another country. All they have to do is involve the courts of that country by following existing agreed procedures. So why do they try to go barging in heavy handed in a way that gets governments involved in defending their sovereignty?
"This whole situation highlights the serious need for more and better international agreements regulating this sort of thing."
ROFLMAO. The international agreements of which you write already exist. This entire episode is the result of the authorities in this case choosing not to use them.
All they have to do, assuming they have a case, is to present that case to the relevant court and get a warrant. Microsoft Ireland would be bound to abide by that warrant. The Irish government would not be involved. (Technically, I suppose, it would have already been involved in negotiating with the US the relevant treaty which the US authorities are now ignoring.)
So why are they getting themselves in this position. Is it that they don't have a case? Do they have a case but can't be bothered to get off their arses and present it to the relevant court? Are they trying to establish a precedent whereby they can go to a complaisant US court for fishing expeditions when they really don't have a case and know they'd be laughed out of an Irish court? Did the read the word 'foreign' and think they'd have to present the case in a non-English language? If it's that I can assure them that they speak excellent English in Ireland. Do they just fancy throwing their weight about internationally to bully smaller countries, given they're not doing very well with Russia or the Norks?
If they get their way with this things will not go very well with a large swathe of the US tech industry in the future. The Privacy Figleaf can be expected to shrivel up and die and it will be very difficult to persuade anyone in the EU to have another shot at replacing it. Any US business that depends on the Figleaf this will find EU business drying up. Other markets might follow. You might find yourself reminiscing about the halcyon days when the US had an international tech industry.