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US appeals court upholds Microsoft win in warrants case

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit denied the U. S. government's petition to rehear the government's case against Microsoft Corp. over warrants for emails stored abroad.

The court on Jan. 24 voted 4-4 for reconsidering in banc, or before the full bench, its previous ruling that the U.S. government cannot make the tech giant produce customer emails stored on servers located outside the U.S. The judges in favor of hearing in banc contended that the original decision could restrict law enforcement and, therefore, should be reconsidered. However, the petition to review failed to gain majority vote.

Microsoft in 2014 objected to the government's request to turn over emails stored in its data center located in Ireland, claiming that the warrant issued under the Stored Communications Act would violate international law and treaties as warrants traditionally carry territorial limitations. Later, the appeals court reversed a previous ruling of the District Court whereby Microsoft was ordered to turn over the emails to the government.

Later on, many companies and individuals filed for leave to appear as amici curiae in support of Microsoft's stance, stating that the outcome of the case would affect the future of technology firms involved in mobile and cloud computing.