A U.S. judge on Friday ordered Google to comply with search warrants requesting customer emails stored outside the United States, Reuters reports. Google said it planned to appeal the decision.
"Though the retrieval of the electronic data by Google from its multiple data centers abroad has the potential for an invasion of privacy, the actual infringement of privacy occurs at the time of disclosure in the United States," wrote U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Rueter in Philadelphia.
The news comes after the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan said that it won’t reconsider a decision that prevents the Department of Justice from forcing Microsoft to turn over customer emails stored outside the U.S. In that case, Judge Susan Carney said the Stored Communications Act (SCA) doesn’t allow worldwide search under a U.S. warrant.
The DOJ has argued that the government has the authority to gain access to data stored elsewhere if the company in question is based in the U.S. In doing so, the DOJ is hoping to prevent tech companies from ducking warrants by moving customer data overseas.
But privacy advocates and tech companies maintain that the SCA does not apply to servers outside the U.S., and that more timely rules need to be written to address an environment where data is commonly stored in various places globally.
Given the contradictory rulings, it’s likely we’ll see much more on this contentious issue soon.