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Microsoft office in Washington, DC, metro area. Credit: Mike Scarcella/ NLJ

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday grappled with the technology and ramifications of applying a pre-internet federal law to the government’s effort to force Microsoft to disclose emails stored on a server in Dublin.

In United States v. Microsoft, Deputy Solicitor General Michael Dreeben argued that Microsoft must comply with a warrant issued under the Stored Communications Act of 1986 for emails involved in a drug trafficking investigation. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit disagreed, holding that the government sought extraterritorial application of the law by demanding that Microsoft seize the emails in Ireland.

Michael Dreeben (2010). Credit: Diego M. Radzinschi/ ALM

In Tuesday’s arguments, Dreeben said the statute focuses on domestic conduct, not privacy. “It requires disclosure in a court order by the United States of information related to United States crime and here by a United States service provider,” Dreeben argued.

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Marcia Coyle

Marcia Coyle, based in Washington, covers the U.S. Supreme Court. Contact her at [email protected]. On Twitter: @MarciaCoyle

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