Warrants and Data Storage Locations

Just how far can a warrant reach?

Steve Smith talks about just how far warrants can reach, and what some Government Agencies will do to push their limits.

Episode #6-44 released on July 22, 2016

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Warrants, a legal paper authorized and signed by a Judge requiring a person, or company to comply to a specific list of predetermined demands, usually in response to a specific case, person, persons, or company. This is how many countries request data, legally. Normally speaking, a company served a warrant has to comply completely, but in some cases, people and companies fight back, including Microsoft, when the warrant requests for information or items outside the justifiable zone of legality and jurisdiction. In this case, we are talking about American Federal Agents requesting data held in Ireland, exclusively.

Last week, American company, Microsoft, wins case against Feds when court finds citing that SCA warrant does not hold the legal entitlement for requesting data held exclusively outside the United States.

The original warrant was served in 2013, and was part of a drug investigation, so it easy to determine that by Feds, we mean FBI and DEA. At that time, Microsoft had refused to comply with the order for all non-domestic data, and a lower court had held them in contempt. For those who don't know what that implies, it is a form of punishment served by a judge, that has no predetermined end. You can be held yourself in contempt for not complying with a question demanded of you in court, and be housed in prison for the rest of your days. I, personally, find this ridiculous though. Anyway, later on, the contempt charge was vacated because the warrant could not be applied to items or information held exclusively outside the United States, outside the purview of authority of most American Federal Units, like the FBI, and DEA. It, also, stated that Microsoft had no remaining lawful obligation to produce materials to the Government.

But, Governments, especially the American Justice System including FBI specifically, are like a pissed off jealous kid who want that information like a bright shiny toy, and they often challenge Judges decisions bringing us 3 years into the future.

However, 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the lower Courts findings which only allow for domestically held data to be handed over when a warrant is served. I'd like to mention that there are treaties in place that allow Governments to legally request information Internationally, which the Feds did not start with but have now undertaken, way to go Feds, again. Late to the game, are we?

Now, a few talking points. The American Government will, have, and will continue to state that a timely method of access for information in an evolving criminal case is important, and I won't disagree in that case. However, many cases have been loss due to a blatant disregard for rights of suspects, which could lead to further issues. This means, while they will see actions by Microsoft, and even Apple as being un-American, it is important to indicate the following, you must follow the letter of the law, and never violate a persons' rights. Which is exactly why, these kinds of cases, are important to look at. These are only in the public eye because the Feds are violating people or companies' rights, and attempting to extend laws beyond their legal power, when other mechanisms already legally exist meant for that.

And, here is a take away. Provided with the knowledge that warrants for domestic requests will have to be, and will be enforced for domestic acquisitions only, would you store your information in the cloud, if you can reasonably know that the exclusive storage location is outside your country, and therefore outside the prevue of domestic data collection warrants? And, is this the new way of maintaining our privacy from our countries?

I ask this, because while this case may seem off topic a bit, it implicates technology more than anything else. Since servers can be anywhere in the world, mine for my sites our outside my country of residence, how will laws adapt, how will counties create treaties where none exist, and will this lead to new kinds of protests from all netizens?

Host : Steve Smith | Music : Jonny Lee Hart | Editor : Steve Smith | Producer : Zed Axis Productions

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