Manufacturers Back Microsoft in Digital Privacy Case

Imagine if the U.S. government demanded to seize personal e-mails within the control of a U.S.-based Internet service provider but stored on a foreign server without following the proper legal procedures. Sounds illegal, right? Unfortunately, that’s not the case, according to a judge in New York State. Last year, a U.S. district judge ruled that the government can use a search warrant issued under the Stored Communications Act to gain access to e-mail accounts controlled and maintained by Microsoft Corporation on a server in Ireland. In response, the Manufacturers’ Center for Legal Action filed an amicus brief in the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals arguing to overturn this unjust ruling.

The implications for manufacturers are deeply troubling. The U.S. government’s position in this case is that prosecutors are free to ignore the laws of other nations and require production of personal information. If allowed to stand, this case will have an immediate chilling effect on the ability of U.S. companies to compete internationally. Asserting extraterritorial reach with a U.S. warrant violates fundamental principles of international comity and U.S. law.

Numerous media outlets, including The Washington Post, The Hill and The Seattle Times, cited the National Association of Manufacturers’ amicus brief in this harmful ruling for manufacturers that operate in the global economy. We will continue to push back against efforts to undermine U.S. global competitiveness.