In a case closely watched by much of the tech industry, an appellate court has ruled in favor of Microsoft, finding that the company does not have to turn over the contents of an Outlook.com user’s inbox to American investigators because that user’s data is held abroad, in Ireland.
In a 43-page decision handed down on Thursday, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the lower court’s ruling, finding that the Stored Communications Act, which allows domestically held data to be handed over to the government, does not apply outside the United States.
In December 2013, authorities obtained an SCA warrant, which was signed by a judge, as part of a drug investigation and served it upon Microsoft. When the company refused to comply, a lower court held the company in contempt. Microsoft challenged that, too, and the 2nd Circuit has vacated the contempt of court order, writing: