The Microsoft-Ireland Case: Do U.S. Warrants Work In Foreign Lands?




Russell Senate Office Building, Room 485, Washington, DC

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A video recording of the event is available here.

With oral argument in the Supreme Court case of United States v Microsoft slated for February 27, the Supreme Court is poised to make a critical ruling on the extraterritorial reach of U.S. warrants for digital material. At issue is whether the 1986 Stored Communications Act (SCA) applies extraterritorially and thereby allows U.S. law enforcement to access an individual user’s email stored overseas, disregarding the mutual legal assistance treaties (MLATs) the U.S. has with over 50 foreign governments.

Enacted before there even was the Internet we know today, the conventional wisdom is that the SCA badly needs updating to account for technological advancements that have occurred over the past 30 years. Do SCA warrants compel disclosure of data stored extraterritorially? If so, can foreign legal process compel disclosure of data in the U.S.? What concerns do international governments, law enforcement experts, and human rights advocates have with asking the Supreme Court to resolve this issue? How would the recently-introduced CLOUD Act impact the Supreme Court’s decision in this case?


Alex Berengaut, Partner, Convington LLP
Jennifer Daskal, Associate Professor of Law, American Washington College of Law
Sharon Bradford Franklin, Director of surveillance and cybersecurity policy, New America
Amy Howe (Moderator), SCOTUSblog
Greg Nojeim, Senior Counsel and Director of the Freedom, Security, and Technology Project at the Center for Democracy and Technology
Senator Christopher Coons (D-DE) will provide closing remarks.