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Government Passes CLOUD Act, Gets Microsoft Data Stored Abroad

By George Khoury, Esq. on April 18, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

It has been a long drawn out fight for Microsoft and the U.S. government. Battles were won and lost on both sides. Now, thanks to Congress, the President, and SCOTUS, the war is over. Microsoft lost.

The fight was over a search warrant that sought information that Microsoft had stored abroad in Ireland. At the district court level, Microsoft's challenge of the warrant failed. The company was held in contempt, but after a successful appeal to the Second Circuit, the contempt order was vacated, and the warrant was quashed. While on appeal to SCOTUS, Congress actually passed the CLOUD Act, which specifically requires companies to turn over data in response to a warrant regardless of where it is stored.

Everyone Can Go Back to Hating Microsoft Again

Even before SCOTUS ruled that the government's appeal of Microsoft's appellate victory squashing the overly board warrant had been mooted thanks to the new legislation and a new warrant being issued, Microsoft gave up holding the torch of user privacy. Not surprisingly, while carrying that torch may have burned Microsoft's hands a bit, the internet world watched on and actually cheered the company on, well at least before it threw in the towel.

It was a rare moment in time, online. The internet world applauded the software giant as it fought a legal battle akin to pushing a boulder up a hill. And perhaps for that moment in time, the hate internet peoples hold in their carpel tunnel riddled hands against Microsoft may have eased.

Though Microsoft may have thrown their hands up in this case, when a case gets mooted out because the feds actually passed legislation, giving up seems to be the most pragmatic choice. After all, the company has shareholders and can't just litigate against the all powerful federal government to make the internet happy.

History of Microsoft v. U.S.A.

For some folks out there, you may have forgotten that there was a time when Microsoft ruled the personal and business computing world. In fact, it was so bad that right around the time printer paper stopped being perforated, and then again during the whole Y2K controversy, the U.S. government actually filed anti-trust charges against the company (a few times). And like any good big business being charged with running a monopoly, those charges were settled after a couple years.

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