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A district court judge ruled Thursday that Microsoft must comply with law-enforcement demands even for user data stored on servers in Ireland.

By Dustin Volz
July 31, 2014

— A federal judge ruled Thursday that U.S. law-enforcement authorities can force Microsoft to hand over emails that are stored on servers in Ireland.

U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska said that Microsoft must comply with search warrants even when the data in question is hosted abroad, according to reports from the Associated Press.

Preska reasoned that the location of the data is irrelevant when considering who owns that data—in this case, a U.S.-based corporation.

Loretta stayed her ruling, meaning it will not go into effect until Microsoft can appeal. The company quickly promised it would do so.

“The only issue that was certain this morning was that the District Court’s decision would not represent the final step in this process,” said Brad Smith, Microsoft general counsel and executive vice president. “We will appeal promptly and continue to advocate that people’s email deserves strong privacy protection in the U.S. and around the world.”

A bevy of technology companies, including Apple, Verizon, and AT&T, and a number of open-Internet groups joined Microsoft in arguing that private email contents should be off-limits to law enforcement if the data is stored abroad.

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