The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday agreed to resolve a major privacy dispute between the Justice Department and Microsoft over whether prosecutors should get access to emails stored on company servers overseas.
The justices will hear the Trump administration’s appeal of a lower court’s ruling last year preventing federal prosecutors from obtaining emails stored in Microsoft computer servers in Dublin, Ireland in a drug trafficking investigation.
That decision by the New York-based 2nd U.S. Court of Appeals marked a victory for privacy advocates and technology companies that increasingly offer cloud computing services in which data is stored remotely. Prosecutors say a ruling in favor of Microsoft could undermine a range of criminal investigations.
Microsoft, which has 100 data centers in 40 countries, was the first U.S. company to challenge a domestic search warrant seeking data held outside the country. There have been several similar challenges, most brought by Google.
“If U.S. law enforcement can obtain the emails of foreigners stored outside the United States, what’s to stop the government of another country from getting your emails even though they are located in the United States?” Brad Smith, Microsoft’s president and chief legal officer, said in a blog post on Monday.
A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment.