Pennsylvania court orders Google to give up customer emails stored on overseas servers

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Google is being ordered by a federal court in Pennsylvania to give up customer emails stored on overseas servers. Curiously enough, a similar case involving Microsoft some time back was overturned. Magistrate Judge Thomas J. Rueter of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania ruled that the customer emails in question were not protected and Google must surrender the emails.

Transferring data electronically from a server in a foreign country to Google’s data center in California does not amount to a seizure because “there is no meaningful interference with the account holder’s possessory interest in the user data,” and Google’s algorithm in any case regularly transfers user data from one data center to another without the customer’s knowledge, Judge Rueter wrote.

He added that when Google produces the electronic data in accordance with the search warrants, and the government views it, the invasion of the account holder’s privacy – the searches – will take place in the U.S.

The court’s reasoning for the ruling is due to the way Google stores information and how it is recompiled. The customer emails in question aren’t in whole stored on overseas servers, some of the data could be stored in the U.S. and yet other portions of it overseas. The judge says because of this, the warrants could not be considered seizures nor searches of the target’s data in a foreign country.

“Google admits that the location of the data could change from the time the Government applies for legal process to the time when the process is served upon Google,” the Judge wrote.

In the Microsoft case, Microsoft was able to defend it’s position because the data the government wanted was wholly stored on servers in Ireland so that kept the government from accessing that data.

What do you think of the court ordering Google to give up these emails? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.

[button link=”” icon=”fa-external-link” side=”left” target=”blank” color=”285b5e” textcolor=”ffffff”]Source: PC World[/button]

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