back to article We'll drag Microsoft in front of Supremes over Irish email spat – DoJ

The US Department of Justice has formally asked the Supreme Court to hear its appeal in Microsoft's Ireland warrant legal row. Prosecutors want the country's top court to reconsider a 2016 ruling that government agents could not use a search warrant, granted in New York, to demand Microsoft hand over people's personal emails …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Smith noted that the matter may get sorted out before the court can even hear the case. Congress is already working on laws that would expand the ability for law enforcement to collect data on cloud servers and clarify when jurisdiction can extend to machines housed overseas.

    Which will likely destroy the US-owned global cloud market.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Which will likely destroy the US-owned global cloud market.

      That was already dead - it's been merely carefully hiding legal problems that have existed before cloud services were even invented. That's what was really behind the original Safe Harbo(u)r: creating a plausible cover story to prevent an EU-US trade war. People tasked with security who look beyond the purely technical context have known this for more than a decade.

      That's why structuring global security and privacy management does not belong in the IT department. The IT side is actually the last step.

  2. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Last year, the appeals court said: no. Instead, the DoJ should have gone to the Irish authorities and obtained a warrant in Dublin for the information.

    That seems reasonable to me. The equivalent would be the DoJ seeking the right to go knocking on doors and arresting people outside the boarders. But, IINAL nor LEO.

    1. tom dial Silver badge

      Hypothetical case:

      ${US Co} contracts with ${NonUS Co} for data center and storage service located physically outside the US (the two companies being unrelated) but retains full operational control of the servers and storage. ${US Co} then offers for sale email and data processing storage services to US customers, guaranteeing that all processing and storage will be offshore.

      Where does the US government go for assistance when they find a US-based (alleged) criminal enterprise is using ${US Co}'s service for its email and data processing needs? Stipulating that ${NonUS Co} cannot assist under a MLAT, should ${US Co} be immune from executing an otherwise proper warrant for data related to operation of the alleged criminal enterprise?

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        They dont want to use the MLAT.

        Now do you see the problem?

        The DoJ are arguing that they don't need to ask Ireland, they can just grab whatever they want.

        This further implies that whatever it is that the DoJ wants is likely to be illegal under Irish and/or EU law - otherwise they'd just ask the Gardai for help.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: They dont want to use the MLAT.

          It does seem extraordinary that the US government is attempting to assume the power to compel US companies to break the law in other countries. Sheer hubris aside, it puts those companies in an impossible position. I expect US companies holding data in Ireland, for example, have been working hard on readying alternative corporate structures where they don't have direct control of the foreign entity.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: They dont want to use the MLAT.

            It does seem extraordinary that the US government is attempting to assume the power to compel US companies to break the law in other countries ...

            It is in fact worse than that: US government already claims the power to compel foreign companies to break their country's laws. A case in point is the US embargo against Cuba. Under it's terms, a Canadian company doing business with Cuba is required to break Canadian law.

            Whatever adjective you might want to apply to Yanks and their foreign policies, neither "shy" nor "retiring" would make the top of the list.

          2. esque

            Re: They dont want to use the MLAT.

            Yes, corporations are working on alternatives: Here in Germany, Microsoft is building a data center for Azure and Microsoft services together with T-Systems. T-Systems own and runs the data center and controls the access, and Microsoft sells the services.

            This set-up was explicitely done so that German users can be (relatively) sure that their data stays within the EU and US LEOs can not access it in cases like the one from the article. Since Microsoft doesn't control the access to the data, they are unable to comply to demands to give the data to US LEOs.

            1. TheVogon Silver badge

              Re: They dont want to use the MLAT.

              " T-Systems own and runs the data centre and controls the access"

              Local resources would presumably be subject to local law anyway, so that they could be Microsoft employees shouldn't really make any difference locally. Sounds like a PR exercise in that regard.

              Microsoft also already offer "bring your own keys" solutions based on Thales HSMs specifically designed to protect against cross jurisdiction access.

              "Since Microsoft doesn't control the access to the data, they are unable to comply to demands to give the data to US LEOs."

              That's probably more the design goal - make Microsoft immune from US fines if they loose their court case

            2. Kiwi Silver badge
              Pint

              Re: They dont want to use the MLAT.

              Since Microsoft doesn't control the access to the data, they are unable to comply to demands to give the data to US LEOs.

              Never ever thought I'd say this but.. Way to go Microsoft! Have one on me..

              I have no problem with companies following the law, and if a properly issued warrant is given to them I expect them to follow the warrant to the law. Where the warrant is not properly issued (eg to broad) or there is doubt I expect them to seek legal advice and even a ruling by a judge. LEO spend to much time trying to get stuff not relevant to the case they're investigating (how many actual crimes could be solved if they'd only investigate those rather than going on fishing expeditions which may not turn anything up?)

        2. LDS Silver badge

          Re: They dont want to use the MLAT.

          I don't believe it's illegal, because the backlash could be even worse. I think it's more a child-like behaviour, they have seen an easy shortcut, and they want to make it available through a precedent, and like children, they can't understand the consequences.

          I really hope it the case goes to the Supreme Court, the EU weighs in and warns of the consequences if US thinks they can freely investigate or spy foreign citizens on foreign soil only because they happen to use some US technology. Ms. Merkel is right - we can't trust US anymore.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: They dont want to use the MLAT.

          This further implies that whatever it is that the DoJ wants is likely to be illegal

          Not necessarily. More likely they do not want to create a precedent.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: They dont want to use the MLAT.

          Except it's not illegal, and the request in question is a fairly trivial "rubber stamp" exercise IIRC it's relating to drug dealing/trafficking. In fact, it's such a straight-forward request the whole thing is highly suggestive that the data in question isn't the real purpose of this exercise.

          AIUI the Irish government, in their brief reminding the US courts that Ireland is a sovereign state, made the point that this specific case met the requirements for an MLAT request with relative ease. This is about establishing a precedent, with a case no one thought MS would actually fight. MS managed to get the media to focus on the extra-territoriality of the case and not the detail that "They were helping drug-dealers".

        5. TheVogon Silver badge

          Re: They dont want to use the MLAT.

          "This further implies that whatever it is that the DoJ wants is likely to be illegal under Irish and/or EU law"

          No, not at all. The could easily get the information via a Irish court order.

          What it would do is set a precedent that US law doesn't apply to the whole planet, which has been the general US government approach up until now.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "${US Co} contracts with ${NonUS Co} for data center and storage service located physically outside the US ... Where does the US government go for assistance when they find a US-based (alleged) criminal enterprise is using ${US Co}'s service for its email and data processing needs?"

        To exactly the same place where they should have gone in this case. To the courts of the country where the servers are operating via the MLAT which exists for this exact purpose.

        It's called due process of law. Of course other countries' courts might take a dim view of that well-known US abuse of process, the fishing expedition.

        1. tom dial Silver badge

          The hypothetical case setup was specified in such a way that the operators in the foreign jurisdiction are not able to assist, for instance because the data are encrypted using a key they do not possess. The courts in that jurisdiction might have the authority to order those under their jurisdiction to comply, but they do not have the power, and they do not have the authority to order the US based operators, who have the power to comply, to do so. US courts, under the second circuit's reasoning, do not have the authority to demand that the US operators, who are able to produce the required data, to do so. The MLATs, and the related and supporting laws, likely need to be refined to cover process in such cases; if not, it seems quite likely that such services will be offered if they have not been already.

        2. Alan Brown Silver badge

          " Of course other countries' courts might take a dim view of that well-known US abuse of process, the fishing expedition."

          But would it be dim enough to incarcerate US representatives for doing it?

          The FBI agents who stole evidence in the Kim Dotcom case got clean away with it, as did the remaining USA legal team in New Zealand. A pissed off judge could have starting putting people in the cells for contempt, but chose not to and the whole cartoon exercise continued.

    2. Hans 1 Silver badge
      WTF?

      The equivalent would be the DoJ seeking the right to go knocking on doors and arresting people outside the boarders.

      That is already the case, though, technically, I think, they use the "secret courts" for this. They even torture people in places like Poland ... it was all over the news ...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      the DoJ seeking the right to go knocking on doors and arresting people outside the boarders.

      This is the current interpretation of the 14th amendment and specifically the Privileges or Immunities Clause.

      No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States....

      It was originally designed to ensure that any of the States cannot limit the rights granted by constitution. It has, however, ended up being used as an extra-territoriality clause where it is the constitutional basis for USA courts to ignore any foreign law as far as a USA citizen or corporation is concerned. As long as this is not amended to narrow down specifically State as "USA State" (as intended), USA courts by default are obliged to disregard any international law and enforce their laws instead.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What's so wrong with America working with their opposite numbers in Ireland to get the drug crims

    Like extradition requests / rulings.. Why does this have to be about usurping everybody... Silicon Valley / Cloud / Individuals Rights. America 'Duck' Yeah!

  4. Your alien overlord - fear me

    Pretty certain that if a US criminal, or suspected crim, owned a house in Ireland, the FBI couldn't just raid it looking for incriminating evidence. They need the permission of the Irish authorities. Same goes for magnetic zeros and ones.

    1. Kiwi Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Pretty certain that if a US criminal, or suspected crim, owned a house in Ireland, the FBI couldn't just raid it looking for incriminating evidence. They need the permission of the Irish authorities. Same goes for magnetic zeros and ones.

      Looking at the Dotcom case, yeah they pretty much would - with help from Irish's version of GCHQ, and police officers duped into believe that it's a legitimate operation because GCHQ ordered it. And when it's found that GCHQ acted in a criminal manner, the Irish version of Shon key and his scumbag government will pass laws retrospectively making their actions legal after all (even though they used guns to commit a violent crime!)

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        "police officers duped into believe that it's a legitimate operation because GCHQ ordered it"

        New Zealand police didn't need an excuse to be gung ho. The corruption in that organisation runs from the top to the bottom (not so much "bent coppers", but the even worse Gene Hunt "Noble Cause" type of corruption(*)) when it comes to "getting a bad guy by any means possible", along with overly credulous belief of any foreign "expert" whose pronouncements align with their interests. ("We know he's a bad guy because XYZ said he is"). Being able to kick in doors and raid using helicopters and tactics normally only seen in hollywood films was just too much of an opportunity for the people involved to pass up.

        The illegal raids they'd performed in other operations(**) along with evidence planting and manipulation(***) have sometimes(****) resulted in cases being overturned, but with the government pressuring the courts to "make it happen", the Dotcom case is the final straw in proving that NZ really is a Banana Dominion.

        People may not take bribes in NZ (although this appears to be changing rapidly), but influence peddling, cronyism and power-based corrupt activities are rife (and usually not illegal under NZ law - bribery is pretty much the only kind of corruption which is explicitly illegal)

        (*) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noble_cause_corruption

        (**) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2007_New_Zealand_police_raids

        (***) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_miscarriage_of_justice_cases#New_Zealand is just the tip of the iceberg there.

        (****) It is a brave judge who criticises the NZ Police, given the systemic retaliation that happens when they do - that's a (paraphrased) comment made by a NZ high court judge I knew in the early 1990s.

  5. Long John Brass Silver badge
    Coat

    Wonder what would happen if

    A ${country} decided that because a user was keeping files on a US server and their courts then demanded that ${corporate_over_lord} hand over all the server data to ${country}

    Given the behaviour of the US govt and courts, I would hope this will start an unholy shit-storm of a backlash!. I suspect however that it won't, and it will be business as usual for all concerned :(

    Yep that my coat; The one with the tickets off this rock

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Wonder what would happen if

      The backlash began years ago. This will just seal the deal.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wonder what would happen if

      For the matter, there are US companies, even defense contractors, owned by non US companies... I would like to see what DOJ would say if a foreign court asks for data hosted on those servers, maybe while investigating on corruption and bribes....

      And I would like to know in how many pieces Privacy Shield will shatter if DOJ wins... it will be clear, if it isn't enough already - you can't trust any US company, wherever it operates, to hold yours data.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Wonder what would happen if

        " even defense contractors, owned by non US companies..."

        if you're referring to BAE systems, no, their US operations are entirely US owned. That's part of the reason why "British" is no longer in the name.

  6. tom dial Silver badge

    While I could be wrong, I quite doubt that any action by the US Congress would support Microsoft's position in the matter. Their best, probably only hope, is in the possibility that the Supreme Court will allow the second circuit's decision to stand. The issue, overall, is fairly complex owing to the possible permutations of jurisdiction over the crime, the suspect, the data storage operator, the data storage facility, the legalities surrounding operation of the storage facility, and numerous other things. Orin Kerr has written extensively on the Stored Communications Act, including several pieces in the Washington Post Volokh Conspiracy blog, that are worth reading.

    The Second Circuit's analysis primarily addressed the law as written, and may be correct; as a non-lawyer, I do not feel competent to judge that. Its reasoning, however, points the way toward legislation that would remedy the problem, for US courts, by making clear that the provisions apply to stored communications in facilities under direct control of companies, like Microsoft, that operate under US jurisdiction or do business in the US. However, such an extension would be difficult or impossible to enforce on companies that contract with non-US companies, possibly including non-US subsidiaries, subject to foreign governance, for their off-shore data processing.

    In the end, this type of search probably is best handled by refining (or if necessary establishing) mutual legal assistance treaties. No country is likely to be pleased by the idea that their criminal investigation may be thwarted by the unintentional actions of a third party like Microsoft in choosing, for its own business purposes, to store customer data in a particular data center. The Second Circuit, I think, misconstrued the technology at the time the SCA was passed in 1986, but technological change since then certainly has reduced the significance of national boundaries in data processing, to a degree that almost certainly warrants MLAT renegotiation in the subject area combined with coordinated legal changes in the respective countries.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      They already have a legal route

      The DoJ refuses to use it.

      This implies that what they want is illegal in Ireland, and thus it's irrelevant what the US Supremes say - Microsoft Ireland cannot comply.

      1. Adam 52 Silver badge

        Re: They already have a legal route

        Microsoft employees based in Ireland cannot comply, Microsoft employees based in the US can. Even if there were anything in Irish law to prevent Microsoft's US employees handing that data over if they have access then there's no way to enforce it.

        Microsoft may well decide not to give any Microsoft Ireland employees permission to grant or revoke access. That would keep their European employees safe if the Irish authorities ever decided to stop looking the other way.

        If the Supreme Court follows to same line of reasoning that it did with the border restrictions (remember three - including Trump's puppet - voted for unrestrained executive authority) then this is unlikely to go well for Microsoft or any of us.

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: They already have a legal route

          >Microsoft employees based in Ireland cannot comply, Microsoft employees based in the US can.

          Suspect MS US employees don't have the necessary passwords and access rights - security in depth..

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: They already have a legal route

            "Suspect MS US employees don't have the necessary passwords and access rights - security in depth.."

            i suspect that the next step will be attempts to incarcerate any MS Ireland employee foolish enough to stray into US territory.

        2. Warm Braw Silver badge

          Re: They already have a legal route

          Microsoft employees based in the US can

          Microsoft Ireland is a separate legal entity and Microsoft US employees have no access to its resources, save those that Microsoft Ireland grants. Ultimately, the directors of Microsoft Ireland are responsible for decisions the company makes - those directors may not all be Irish citizens but they are still accountable to Irish law. They can't use the defence that Microsoft employees elsewhere locked them out of their own company - if they're not in control as directors then the company would be a sham in which they're willing participants.

        3. ExampleOne

          Re: They already have a legal route

          The Irish authorities are not looking the other way, they filed a brief with the US courts reminding them that Ireland is a sovereign nation with all that implies. So far, nothing has happened which is actually in breach of European and Irish data-protection law (at least officially). The EU is on record as pointing out that while they are monitoring the case, it is a matter for Ireland and the US in the first instance.

          To say MS Ireland are safe is complete nonsense. MS Ireland are unarguably the Data Owner within the framework of the Irish Data Protection act. By allowing MS US access to that data without explicit authorisation, MS Ireland are unquestionably in breach of the act. While they may not be able to prosecute the US employees, they can prosecute the subsidiary.

          This really is a case of "goodnight US cloud in Europe" if MS lose.

          1. itguy

            Re: They already have a legal route

            --- This really is a case of "goodnight US cloud in Europe" if MS lose.

            Er no it's not. MS have already put in place data centres in Germany that is run by a non-MS company on contacts to MS. You can and MS can move/host any data there. We already use it.

        4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: They already have a legal route

          " Even if there were anything in Irish law to prevent Microsoft's US employees handing that data over if they have access then there's no way to enforce it."

          1. Big fines - and even bigger if it gets strung out until next May.

          2. Privacy Figleaf completely shrivelled out of existence.

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: They already have a legal route

            "2. Privacy Figleaf completely shrivelled out of existence."

            MS have at least attempted to keep european data in Europe.

            Google refused to provide _any_ guarantees on the sanctity of european personal data, in particular they wouldn't provide any statements about whether any european data which made its way to the USA would be handled in accordance with EU law (which is what Safe Harbour is supposed to entail)

      2. Shane McCarrick

        Re: They already have a legal route

        Nope, what they want (in this instance) would have been gladly handed over- had they asked for it through the proper channels. Some hothead somewhere decided they were above asking for the information in a formal manner- that they'd demand and threaten MS instead. MS- fearing a precedent could be set- refused to play ball- and dragged the Irish government along to the court case, as an interested party. The Irish government said- why the hell didn't the DOJ just ask for the information- we'd have handed it to them on a silver platter. The fact of the matter is- they want to legalise extra-judicial territorial claims- it looks like globally, and for whatever reason, picked on Ireland as a soft target (they could just as easily have picked a case with any other country hosting such information- hell, perhaps they did and the company involved simply rolled over, and it never made the media- I guess we'll never know.

        Anyhow- on a point of principle, Ireland cannot be seen to be acceding to handing over jurisdiction to information hosted in Ireland- regardless of what the information is. If there is a reasonable and justifiable request made for the information- such as it relating to drugs trafficking (as per this case)- just request the information- and you'll be handed it with a smile. You don't need to threaten to batter down the door with a sledgehammer- when you'd be welcome, if you simply knocked..........

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: They already have a legal route

          "You don't need to threaten to batter down the door with a sledgehammer- when you'd be welcome, if you simply knocked.........."

          You sir, are a threat to the sales of sledgehammers and door breaching rams. As such you are to be regarded as a terrorist!

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mK06Hl5DkrI - sums up the USA attitude.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.

      "The issue, overall, is fairly complex"

      It shouldn't be. There are treaties in place which lay out due processes to be followed which would have enabled the relevant prosecutor to get the information they wanted without trampling on anyone else's sovereignty. For reasons best known only to themselves - arrogance, ignorance or indolence - the US authorities have opted to ignore them. The apparent complexity arises out of that.

  7. Frank Zuiderduin

    So the DoJ wants to make sure no non-us entity will ever use us-based companies anywhere in the world...

    Anyone with a bit of sense already knows ths us cannot be trusted. Let's make it official.

    1. h4rm0ny
      Pint

      And that's why Microsoft are fighting this so hard. Microsoft want your money. They will do anything and everything to get it, up to and even including, doing the right thing.

      Cheers, MS!

  8. Phil W

    Doubling up

    "Microsoft, meanwhile, said that it is hoping the matter could be resolved outside of the court, preferably with legislation."

    You mean that legislation that already exists in the form of existing international treaties with Ireland which provide a mechanism for getting the information with co-operation of Irish law enforcement agencies?

    I presume the suggestion is that there should be new US legislation allowing them to retrieve things held overseas without bothering to consult with that nation's government/law enforcement. Putting aside whether such a thing would be legal under international law (it wouldn't), it's also completely unnecessary. You could maybe try and make a case it were needed if foreign governments regularly refused to co-operate, but that never happens.

    The only reasoning I can see here is that the DOJ and other US agencies don't want to have to go to the time and effort or dealing with foreign governments, but it seems to me in equivalent the time and cost taken on this legal case they could have made the proper international requests for several dozen warrants at least.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Doubling up

      >The only reasoning I can see here is that the DOJ and other US agencies don't want to have to go to the time and effort or dealing with foreign governments

      Which raises the question that this was a fishing expedition and that if the real details of the investigation were to be made public, it would sound alarm bells in various friendly governments and also alert the subject(s) of the investigation to the investigation... It is this adverse consequences angle along with the blind belief in the supremacy of US law that probably goes far to explaining why the DoJ haven't explored other legal options.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Doubling up

      "I presume the suggestion is that there should be new US legislation allowing them to retrieve things held overseas without bothering to consult with that nation's government/law enforcement."

      Given the attitude they've taken I'd have thought they'd want US legislation that makes it quite clear that the US's jurisdiction is limited to the US and that the appropriate treaty arrangements must be used.

    3. Fatman Silver badge

      Re: Doubling up

      <quote>The only reasoning I can see here is that someone in the DOJ and or other US agencies don't want to have to go to the time and effort or dealing with foreign governments is a fucking asshole and, now that the shit has hit the fan, can not be seen as backing down.</quote>

      FTFY!

  9. mark l 2 Silver badge

    The US already thinks that their law should be applied worldwide so this is hardly a suprise. They went after Kim Dotcom for the Megaupload site even though neither the servers, data or Kim Dotcom were in the US.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      I was just about to post that example.

      I'm no fan of Kim, but the U.S. really overstepped their authority.

      1. Kiwi Silver badge
        Big Brother

        I'm no fan of Kim, but the U.S. really overstepped their authority.

        Even worse was our own government who not only rolled over, but when it came out that the raid on Dotcom's residence was done in a criminal manner, they further rolled over and passed under urgency laws to make what the GCSB goons did legal

        And sadly, I think we'll have our own Mayday later this year, with these scum voted in for another term.

    2. LDS Silver badge

      In this case, they asked New Zealand. Agreement exist among nations to investigate and prosecute criminals abroad too - you just need to abide to them. And there are also worldwide agreement about what criminal acts are.

      The issue here is FBI chose to ignore existing agreements and asked a US company to override local laws, to avoid asking through existing agreements - probably because they would go under a foreign court vetting - just like it's happening in New Zealand.

      Two very different situations.

    3. esque

      As far as I know some of Megauploads servers were hosted by Carpathia Hosting in the US.

  10. MJI Silver badge

    Why not start a relocate?

    To a civilised country.

    Ireland seems nice and EU do like privacy.

    I am sure it would be a nice upgrade from living in Trumpton.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why not start a relocate?

      Not as unlikely as you might think. Back when this case was first going to court I was in a meeting with MS UK about data protection which included some fairly major MS names. The subject of Irish emails was (inevitably, in the circumstances) raised and a pretty senior MS executive basically said they would fight it all the way to the Supreme Court, and if they lost that they would reincorporate MS elsewhere, with the US as a subsidiary, rather than lose European (and potentially Asian) markets.

      So they definitely have contingency plans...

      1. theOtherJT

        Re: Why not start a relocate?

        a pretty senior MS executive basically said they would fight it all the way to the Supreme Court, and if they lost that they would reincorporate MS elsewhere, with the US as a subsidiary, rather than lose European (and potentially Asian) markets.

        I've heard similar things in meetings regarding what happens to UK companies after we leave the EU. "Follow the money" has never been more true. There's no nationalism when there's profit at stake.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Why not start a relocate?

        "So they definitely have contingency plans."

        Presumably the German arrangements are part of those.

        One day the US might look back with regret on the days when it had a tech industry.

  11. Number6

    We need a definitive and blunt statement from the Irish government that if such data is released from their country without going through their proper procedures, prosecution will result. Then we get to see who blinks first. Of course Microsoft is screwed either way because one side or the other will drag them through a courtroom, although I guess the way they could do it is dump all the stuff to tape in the Irish facility and get the Garda to confiscate the box (having been told in advance) so they can then say to the US government that what they want is now in the hands of the Irish government.

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