On February 4, a United States judge ruled that Google must surrender customer emails stored on servers outside of the U.S. This comes just months after Microsoft received an opposite ruling in a similar case.
Google used Microsoft’s ruling as a precedent, and stated they had cooperated with the FBI’s warrants turning over the data requested that Google knew was stored in the U.S.
However, United States Judge, Thomas Rueter, ordered Google to adhere to the FBI search warrants. The judge claimed that transferring the emails from a foreign server to the U.S. would have “no meaningful interference” with Google’s “possessory interest” in the requested information.
“Though the retrieval of the electronic data by Google from its multiple data centers abroad has the potential for an invasion of privacy, the actual infringement of privacy occurs at the time of disclosure in the United States,” Rueter ruled
The issue, for both Google and Microsoft, stems to the Stored Communications Act. a 1986 federal law that restricts publication of wire and electronically stored information held by Internet Service Providers. A law that many technology companies and privacy advocates regard as outdated.
This case is not over yet, Google plans to appeal the ruling. Releasing a statement saying, “The magistrate in this case departed from precedent, and we plan to appeal the decision. We will continue to push back on overbroad warrants.”