back to article DoJ's extra-territorial data demands: now Ireland is baulking

The American Department of Justice's legal spat with Microsoft keeps sending out wider ripples, with Ireland now unhappy with the DoJ's blasé attitude about its jurisdictional reach. Microsoft has long been resisting a court order that decided e-mails are “business records” and demanding that Redmond pry open some servers in …

  1. Richard Jones 1
    Flame

    Surprisingly Late To The Party?

    For a country that alleges its love of 'due process' Uncle Sam has been tardy, lax or downright negligent in not spotting that Ireland is NOT a US state! On the other hand Ireland has been somewhat slow in spotting that someone is going fishing in their waters without the 'due process' of obtaining the correct fishing license.

    The really stupid fact is that their are correct and proper processes laid down in laws and they would almost certainly have produced less heat and far more rapid results. Or was there some other motive involved in this charade? - Somehow I doubt that this will come into popular play as a party game this, or any other Christmas.

    I do hope injustice silly knickers in New York gets them really twisted for her failure to understand due process and her behaviour as a colonial jerk.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Surprisingly Late To The Party?

      To be fair, we taught them how to do it, and then the US used WW2 to dismantle the British sphere of influence and acquire its assets. We're just watching what we used to do and going tut-tut, but very faintly so our pols still occasionally get a photo op in the US.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Surprisingly Late To The Party?

        "To be fair, we taught them how to do it, and then the US used WW2 to dismantle the British sphere of influence and acquire its assets. "

        But we taught them well, and they bone-headedly replicated the lessons in full. As a result they've then crammed three hundred years of British style empire building, hubris, over-reach, followed by debt-addled decline into just seventy.

        And just as the last gasp of the British Empire was in the sands of Egypt, Iraq, Aden, and Iran, well..............

    2. No. Really!?

      Re: Surprisingly Late To The Party?

      > Ireland is NOT a US state

      You may find that's at odds with American World View™

      1. Chris G Silver badge

        Re: Surprisingly Late To The Party?

        An easy mistake for the Usians as there are some 30.5 million citizens of Irish descent on the left and only 4.5 million on the right side (when looking north) so they probably think Ireland is an Irish state somewhere in North America where all the local Irish come from and given the inability of most Usian politicians to point out anything more than 50 miles from where they are standing on a map, it is no surprise.

  2. IT Hack

    Same old same old

    Neighbourhood tough guy oversteps boundaries…again.

    This is getting very tiresome.

  3. Snorlax

    "The minister, Dara Murphy, has asked the EC to “submit observations” on the case, saying that the DoJ's actions create “legal uncertainty” and adding that “the outcome could have potentially serious implications for data protection in the EU”."

    The concepts of privacy and data protection in the EU were fucked long before this incident, Mr Murphy.

    "On the other hand Ireland has been somewhat slow in spotting that someone is going fishing in their waters without the 'due process' of obtaining the correct fishing license."

    I'd say they've noticed alright, but what can they do about it?

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      I imagine all kinds of shit could hit the fan if they suddenly decided to furtle with MS Ireland's tax affairs. Just as a way of putting a bit of pressure back on the US.

    2. big_D Silver badge

      If Microsoft does hand over the data, the Irish DPO can fine Microsoft for breaking the data protection laws and MS Ireland could also be prosecuted and the executives could face prison.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        " and MS Ireland could also be prosecuted and the executives could face prison"

        And how likely is that? US globo-corps aren't tied to Ireland by anything other than cheap and accommodating tax arrangements. Ireland needs their money and their jobs far more than they need Ireland.

        On the other hand the Franco-German axis of Europe would be delighted to see the Irish starve as punishment for their low tax rates and lack of alignment with the European statist model. Moreover some ghastly little nobody (by the name of Juncker) set up an alternative tax haven a few years back in Luxembourg. I'm sure the new president of the European Commission would look favourably on tax dodgers moving to that country.

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "but what can they do about it?"

      I suppose they could nationalise all the big american companies notially headquartered there and seize all their local assets in the interest of protecting the data of EU citizens from a terrorist rogue state. :-)

  4. Alan Brown Silver badge

    what happens

    If Ireland stumps up and says that if MS hands over the data without a local court order they'll face $large fines for illegal data disclosure?

    I'm surprised they haven't preemptively upped the fines to 10% of turnover or "unlimited" to make sure someone's paying attention.

    1. Slacker@work

      Re: what happens

      If the new "General Data Protection Regulations" had been ratified and enacted then yes I think MS could be hit with a fine "the greater of €100 000 000 or 5% of Global turnover" - do that a couple of times and goodbye deficits!!

      1. dogged

        Re: what happens

        Do that a couple of times and all lobbying money from all tech firms suddenly starts getting very, very focussed on Capitol HIll.

        Actualy, this whole thing may just be some senators looking for a fat pension.

        1. auburnman

          Re: what happens

          Or possibly the DoJ out for Microsoft's blood. It's entirely plausible that the organisation has an undercurrent of resentment from when Microsoft wriggled out of being broken up.

          1. dogged

            Re: what happens

            If it were just Microsoft I'd agree but this hits every US-based cloud supplier. Google, Apple and Amazon are next if the precedent isn't struck down.

            Then again, this may be exactly the kind of leverage somebody needs to make all that nasty encryption stuff go away.

  5. Trygve

    Why would the DOJ care?

    MS chose to put their operations in Ireland rather than keeping them in the good old US, so any issues the Irish or EU have are MS's problem.

    DOJ don't care whatsoever about events or opinions outside the US unless it involves people failing to obey the DOJ, and if that costs US companies billions their response is a resounding 'meh'.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    EU Cyber Laws?

    I wonder if the Judge would fall foul of any conspiracy type legislation? Extradite her!

  7. Wolfclaw Silver badge

    Should Be A Laugh

    Wish I could be at the court, should be interesting if M$ looses and the EU tell the M$ to tell the US to go fook themselves !

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Facepalm

      Re: Should Be A Laugh

      Love what you did with the $ sign there....really original and witty.

      1. dogged
        Headmaster

        Re: Should Be A Laugh

        And "looses" too! Clearly a scholar.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Should Be A Laugh

      European arrest warrant for breach of EU law :-

      Microsoft Directors.

      DOJ.

      Judges involved in the decision.

      Obama.

      should spice their travel plans up a bit.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    i like this idea ... DoJ claims jurisdiction over things that happen in Ireland ..

    this is good news!

    For it to be fair, obviously, that makes the US Government equally liable for things that happen in Ireland; to have rights, they must have responsibilities. So if someone stubs their toe on an Irish pavement, they can sue the US authorities for failing to maintain the sidewalk?

  9. Mephistro Silver badge
    Mushroom

    "the outcome could have potentially serious implications for data protection in the EU"

    This is like saying that "the Chixulub meteorite could be potentially harmful to dinosaurs."

    And I totally agree that a 5% of total %company% turnover would probably put a stop to this malarkey. Better yet, rise the fine another 5% for every subsequent breach and accuse the person ultimately responsible for the data breach -i.e. the mother company's CEO- of a crime, so they can never again lay a foot out of the USA without fear of being arrested, judged and serve time for a crime, just the same as we would do with a spook/narc/terrist operating from some rogue state and ordering/perpetrating criminal acts in Europe.

    1. Palpy

      Re: "...never again lay a foot out of the USA without fear of being arrested..."

      To put an off-topic caboose on that train of thought...

      Recent data makes it clear that US officials condoned savage acts of torture which are illegal under international law as well as the national laws of virtually every modern state. Surely any CIA official who sets foot outside the US-of-benighted-A should be subject to immediate arrest and imprisonment?

      Ah, well. Won't happen, any more than Satya will find himself playing solitaire in an Irish pokey. As a Yank by birth, I can only admire from afar those nations which face up to their moral failures with a modicum of honesty and resolve.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "...never again lay a foot out of the USA without fear of being arrested..."

        "I can only admire from afar those nations which face up to their moral failures with a modicum of honesty and resolve."

        Well that'll be a bloody short list, won't it?

        1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: ".those nations which face up to their moral failures with a modicum of honesty and resolve"

          Canada, for one. Anyone else know of any others?

    2. Chris Fox

      A US DoJ shaped hole in MS's Office365 EU plans?

      MS have been successful in touting for corporate Office365 business in the UK and elsewhere in the EU by claiming that locating servers in Ireland ensures that confidential and privileged information will be stored in compliance with EU Data Protection rules. They have been waving letters from the ICO to this effect. Even so, some law firms have expressed concerns about client confidentiality, and claim that they have official advice (also from the ICO) that data on MS servers in Ireland cannot consider to be safe. For those that have bought the MS line on data protection, their internal emails now cross national borders on undersea cables. MS claims the data is safe in transit as it is encrypted, but we know this does not necessarily follow. Of course, those keen to outsource and close down local facilities may not be that keen to look beneath the thin veneer of assurances, but MS might be panicking that its USP could be unravelling.

  10. launcap Silver badge
    FAIL

    Baulk/balk

    One means what you wanted to use, the other doesn't..

  11. Mike Shepherd

    Surely...

    Surely there's a simple commercial solution. Don't trust your data to any US company.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Meh

      Re: Surely...

      Good luck....not many out there, unless you go Chinese.

    2. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Surely...

      TA DA!

  12. ecofeco Silver badge

    Washington State corporate charter

    Microsoft's corporate charter is in Washington state and therefore it is answerable to all laws and regulations of that state and the U.S.

    Everything else is a legal fiction or outright disregard by MS for those laws and regulations.

    This has nothing to with Ireland. That is a diversion and delay.

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Washington State corporate charter

      So what you're saying is "non Americans should never use any American public cloud service".

      Good to know. My nation's laws > US laws. If you can't abide by my nation's laws, then I'll not be using your service. I suspect most of the world will feel the same.

    2. Roj Blake Silver badge

      Re: Washington State corporate charter

      So presumably UK-registered companies can do whatever they like in the US as long as it's OK in the UK?

      Sauce for the goose etc.

  13. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    I can pre-empt that advice...

    ..and now Ireland's minister for European affairs and data protection has asked the European Commission for its advice. ®....

    1 - Bend over

    2 - Say "Ready".....

  14. dan1980

    If Ireland/The EU are serious - really serious - about protecting their citizens and their sovereignty then they need to be utterly unambiguous. They need to say, straight-up, that if MS Ireland hands over the data directly to the DOJ then that will be in breach of Irish and EU laws and their fine will be $X and their punishment Y.

    MS are in a difficult situation* to be sure but they need to be encouraged to fight this as hard as they can. Not that they aren't, but in the end, it is MS's decision to be in Ireland so it is their responsibility to deal with any conflicts that arise from that arrangement.

    I really don't know what the DOJ is playing at here. It almost feels like some kind of bully-boy posturing that got out of hand and now they can't back down.

    If they 'win', it will certainly set a dangerous precedent that will have wide-reaching ramifications for large portions of the tech world, but if they lose they (the DOJ) will view it as a very embarrasing precedent against them that expressly limits the power they seem to believe is absolute and all-encompassing.

    * - You'd feel sorry for them if they weren't a big tech company operating through Ireland for the sole reason tax avoidance.

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