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In the oral arguments before the Supreme Court in United States v. Microsoft Corp., the justices couldn’t help but wonder whether the parties were at the wrong government building. Wouldn’t it be better, they asked, if the case at hand was rectified by Congress instead?

A few weeks later, Congress agreed, passing The Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data (CLOUD) Act as part of its $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill. The bill amends the Stored Communications Act (SCA) with language that would compel U.S. providers “of electronic communication service or remote computing” to comply with authorities’ legal requests to access information belonging to U.S. persons but stored outside of the country.

It directly addresses the issue at the center of United States v. Microsoft Corp.: whether warrants issued under SCA could force Microsoft to disclose emails stored in Ireland. The CLOUD Act also compels U.S. providers to comply with similar requests from foreign nations’ law enforcement authorities seeking information belonging to their citizens, though not U.S. citizens, provided the foreign nations in question have bilateral agreements with the U.S.

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Rhys Dipshan

CT-born, New York-based legal tech reporter covering everything from in-house technology disruption to privacy trends, blockchain, AI, cybersecurity, and ghosts-in-the-machine. Continually waiting for law to catch up with tech. (It's like waiting for Godot, but without the clowns)

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