The U.S. Justice Department has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to drop the case against software maker Microsoft over the privacy of international data. According to the Justice Department the case has been rendered moot by a new law that has been enacted and which answers legal questions that the Microsoft case was attempting to resolve.
The legal battle started five years ago when Microsoft declined to turn over to U.S. officials, who were conducting an investigations on drug trafficking, emails that were kept on a server located in Ireland. At the time Microsoft argued that the sharing of data that was kept abroad could result in a violation of international policies and treaties. Additionally there was a lack of laws which could offer clarity on the matter.
That however is no longer the case due to the passing and eventual signing into law of The Cloud Act. With the act the United States has been provided with a legal pathway which allows it to ink agreements with other countries in order to allow law enforcement officials to collect data that is stored in foreign lands. Though the big names in tech supported the measure, civil liberties and privacy advocates criticized it.
Some of the advocacy groups that are against the act include Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. According to the two organizations the new law does not give assurances that the United States will vet requests made by other countries sufficiently. Both Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International harbor fears that data could end up being handed to other countries and used in a negative manner especially with regards to human rights.
This coincides with a reorganization at the largest software maker in the world resulting in emphasis being placed on cloud computing. Many of the company’s engineering groups have also been reshuffled with head of Windows, Terry Myerson, expected to leave the company. While revenues from Windows are shrinking they are still significant and in the most recent financial report accounted for approximately 18% of revenues. The decline of Windows has been attributed to falling sales of personal computers as they are not being replaced as they once were.
“In the past it was Windows in the forefront, Windows was the driver,” Gartner analyst, Ed Anderson, said.
The reorganization will see Microsoft double down with products such as Azure and Microsoft 365. Since succeeding Steve Ballmer as the chief executive officer of Microsoft, Satya Nadella has focused on making the software giant a cloud-first company.