The American government takes on Microsoft, and if the verdict goes badly for the company, it could set a dangerous legal precedent across the world. This is about the long-running case connected with a single email account stored on a Microsoft server in Ireland. The Department of Justice tried to force the company to disclose the emails from its foreign facilities.

Although the case associated with that Hotmail email account involves narcotics, the decision about the validity of the US police’s warrant could signal to governments all over the world whether they can compel tech giants with a local presence to turn over private correspondence.

Apparently, a loss for Microsoft would also be a loss for people from Germany and France who have voted to drive back incursions into their own private data, because a European citizen has no influence when he or she uses a Google account that the United States can reach.

Back in 2014, tech giants such as Apple and Amazon, privacy groups, computer scientists and media companies filed legal briefs backing Microsoft in this case. So far, the company lost twice in court. However, it continues to fight and is now challenging the order in the US court of appeals.

Microsoft’s lawyers also believe that a win for the United States will encourage other governments to follow suit and reach into other territories. However, that does not seem like a sound approach to international stability or mutual respect. The EFF agreed, saying that a win for the Department of Justice would make everyone’s data “fair game” for other governments.

The trial comes after US attorney general vowed at her confirmation hearings to make the Department of Justice the standard-bearer for America’s response to online crime. Despite opposition from the tech giants, the US government wanted to see tech companies, particularly email providers, providing backdoor access to governments by either disclosing personal information or weakening encryption.

The community argued that the United States could have used existing law to reach the emails in question – for example, the mutual assistance in law enforcement treaty.

Worse still, if the case doesn’t break Microsoft’s way, things may also become harder for law enforcement. For example, in case of Yahoo, which has non-US companies housing its servers overseas, a subpoena or warrant addressed to that entity won’t be served in the US.

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