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Microsoft Search Warrant Case Gets Supreme 'Moot Boot'

By George Khoury, Esq. | Last updated on

Although the majority of the internet world supported Microsoft's efforts to quash the search warrant that sought to obtain data that was stored abroad, by the time the case made it to the Supreme Court, Congress had passed a new law that effectively decided the dispute.

Curiously though, rather than let SCOTUS rule and affirm the warrant based on the newly passed law, a new warrant was issued and Microsoft just gave up, essentially forcing the hand of the Justices to dismiss for mootness, or, more colloquially, give the case the ole moot boot.

New Warrant, New Law, but No New Challenge?

While everything about this case screams Goliath v. Bigger Goliath, it almost seems surprising that Microsoft is giving up the fight. After all, the company has the money and has been in desperate need of public goodwill ever since they bundled internet explorer into Windows, or perhaps decided to finally kill off the epicly bad Zune. Notably, the public loves it when tech companies fight for their Constitutional rights, especially the harder ones, like privacy.

Although the CLOUD Act (Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data) seems to pretty clearly spell out that a U.S. company's data stored overseas must be turned over in response to a search warrant, it's a new law that has yet to withstand a legal challenge.

And while the IP community knows to disregard anything and everything legal written by the non-lawyer tech community, the tin foil hat wearing legal tech geeks over at the EFF may be right about the CLOUD Act being a backdoor to the Fourth Amendment and your precious precious data. As the EFF notes, the cutely names CLOUD Act is surprisingly bad for privacy rights as it even allows foreign authorities to access data stored in the United States without regard to the Fourth Amendment (so long as a U.S. person is not targeted).

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