News Releases

    Attorneys General Urge U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Microsoft Case

    August 2, 2017

    Says, ‘this loophole cannot stand’

    LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has joined a large bipartisan coalition in submitting an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court, urging the justices to decide whether email service providers can shield evidence of a crime from law enforcement by storing data outside the United States.

    In United States v. Microsoft, a federal judge issued a search warrant under the Stored Communications Act (SCA), authorizing the search of a specific Microsoft Outlook email account. The judge found probable cause to believe the account was being used to traffic narcotics in the United States. An email provider who receives a warrant under the SCA for evidence of a crime must disclose the requested data to the law enforcement agency.

    Microsoft argued that compliance with the warrant was not required because that data was stored on a server in Ireland. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit agreed with Microsoft and quashed the warrant.

    “It is important for law enforcement officers to have access to pertinent information they need to properly and thoroughly conduct investigations,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Technology becomes a bigger part of our lives each day and this loophole cannot stand. The U.S. Supreme Court should clarify this rule.”

    The coalition argued that email providers around the country are relying on this decision to refuse compliance with warrants issued under the SCA and similar state laws. The brief argues that the Supreme Court’s review “is necessary to address the Second Circuit’s remarkable conclusion that a private company has unfettered discretion to shield evidence of crime from law enforcement, simply by electronically sending that evidence out of the jurisdiction.”

    Rutledge has been joined in filing the brief, led by Vermont, by attorneys general from Alabama, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wyoming and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

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