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The Battle Over E-mail Privacy is Under Appeal

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On Thursday, U.S. District Court Judge Loretta Preska ruled against Microsoft's stance in opposition to a U.S. government search warrant issued to the company for the acquisition of personal e-mail data they have stored in Ireland.

In a single day, the NSA’s Special Source Operations branch acquired over 444,743 e-mail address files from Yahoo, 105,068 from Hotmail, 82,857 from Facebook, 33,697 from Gmail and even more from other providers. This insider look into the operations of the NSA can be credited to none other than former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden.

Vladimir Putin, referred to Edward Snowden as a “free man,” in snide reference to Snowden's recent decision to seek sanctuary in Moscow, while the United States Department of Justice attempts to extradite and prosecute him for his primary role in the largest security leak in U.S. history.

One of the most controversial revelations to come out of Snowden's leak was the fact that the NSA regularly accesses personal e-mail accounts of U.S. Citizens, and now it appears the U.S. Government is going after overseas e-mail accounts as well. The trial between Microsoft and U.S. Government on Thursday was over a warrant issued to have the company turn over private emails stored in their Dublin, Ireland facility.

Microsoft took the position that DOJ warrants lacked authority overseas. The company's general council, Brad Smith, further noted that the company will appeal and “continue to advocate strong privacy protection in the U.S. and around the world”. While Preska ruled against Microsoft, she also stated the company will not have to turn over the emails during the appeal process.

If Microsoft’s appeal proves to be successful, it may spark a trend towards web service providers establishing infrastructure overseas to evade law enforcement.