US court orders Google to hand over data on foreign servers

US court orders Google to hand over data on foreign servers
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A federal court in Pennsylvania is forcing Google to retrieve emails stored on a foreign server to comply with a warrant despite a separate court reaching the opposite conclusion in a recent case involving Microsoft. 

“This court agrees with the Second Circuit's reliance upon Fourth Amendment principles, but respectfully disagrees with the Second Circuit's analysis regarding the location of the seizure and the invasion of privacy,” wrote Judge Thomas Rueter in his ruling Friday.

The Google case concerns the domestic theft of trade secrets. 


In the Microsoft case, courts ruled that data stored in an Irish server was beyond the reach of a U.S. warrant. Instead, the Department of Justice would be required to abide by the laws of Ireland and follow procedures laid out in treaties with Ireland to obtain that data. 

Last month, the Justice Department asked the appeals court to reconsider this decision but was turned down.  

In the Google case, Rueter ruled that neither the search nor seizure of digital data stored abroad actually takes place abroad.

Modern data storage has created ambiguity on the matter because data is accessible and moves across international borders, often times without the knowledge of users.