The Supreme Court will review whether U.S. law enforcement can use search warrants on emails outside the United States, in a case with massive implications for US-based megacorporations that serve countries across the world.
A NY district court and the DOJ contend that companies, not users, own data stored overseas - in this case, email held in an Irish data center.
The Supreme Court disclosed in its order list released on Monday that it will take up the case, US v. Microsoft, in which federal investigators sought data from Microsoft that was stored on servers in Ireland.
Microsoft turned over information it had stored domestically but contended US law enforcement couldn't seize evidence held in another country.
Supreme Court to decide whether prosecutors... His lawyers said that because the United States was not engaged in "hostilities" with al Qaeda, the militant Islamist group that carried out the bombing, at the time of the attack, his acts were not crimes of war.
The justices already are scheduled to consider in December whether police need a warrant to access cellphone location data held by wireless service providers., another major case involving digital privacy.
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Rulings in both cases are due by the end of June. "By taking up this case, the Supreme Court has started a countdown for Congressional action".
The lower court ruling put stored electronic communications held overseas beyond the reach of USA prosecutors even when there is probable cause that they contain evidence of a crime, Justice Department lawyers said in court papers.
The Supreme Court last week declined to hear another Guantanamo case, leaving in place the last remaining conviction of a Yemeni man, Ali Hamza al Bahlul, who was an al Qaeda publicist.
The case hinges on whether a USA warrant can compel American companies to turn over data stored on servers outside the United States.
The Justice Department says the logic behind the appeals court decision would apply even if the account holder were a USA citizen living and committing crimes in this country.
The dispute stems from a 2013 federal effort to get emails that the government says would show evidence of drug trafficking. In 2012, the court held that a warrant is required to place a Global Positioning System tracking device on a vehicle.