US Supreme Court rejects Guantanamo detainee's appeal

Ruben Ruiz
October 17, 2017

Finally, Smith argued that if the US government acts unilaterally to seize emails located overseas with search warrants, there is little to stop foreign governments from exercising the same maneuver on data stored in the United States. It said the decision conflicts with past decisions in lower courts that "a domestic recipient of a subpoena is required to produce specified materials within the recipient's control, even if the recipient stores the materials overseas".

In 2016, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Microsoft, asserting that a 1986 law, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), was not meant to grant law enforcement access to internationally-stored data.

"If U.S. law enforcement can obtain the emails of foreigners stored outside the United States, what's to stop the government of another country from getting your emails even though they are located in the United States?"

The unidentified person at the center of the Supreme Court case registered for his account as a resident of Ireland, according to one of the lower court opinions. The full circuit then split evenly on whether that decision was correct.

The appeals court ruled that Microsoft could not be forced to turn over emails sought in the narcotics case that were stored in Dublin. The other case concerns whether police officers need a warrant to access historic location information on cell phone users that is held by wireless carriers. And if the United States can use a warrant to take any data so long as it's held by an American company, doesn't that invite foreign governments to do the same thing?

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Investigators wanted to look at the emails as part of a probe into suspected drug traffickers.

The Supreme Court's decision today to review Microsoft's victory in the Second Circuit is further proof that Congress needs to act to update laws governing electronic communication.

The Supreme Court is leaving in place a decision that the alleged mastermind of the 2000 attack on the USS Cole that killed 17 US sailors should face a trial by a military commission.

The Justice Department filed a motion to take the case to the Supreme Court in June.

The Justice Department says the logic behind the appeals court decision would apply even if the account holder were a USA citizen living and committing crimes in this country.

Other reports by GizPress

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