Bigger than Safe Harbor: Microsoft prez vows to take down US gov in data protection lawsuit

All your stuff is readable by Uncle Sam. Worldwide


Europeans should sit up and take more notice of Microsoft’s lawsuit against the US government over secret access to their data.

Why? Because it affects much more of their data than the Safe Harbour case, according to Microsoft president and lead counsel Brad Smith.

“The Department of Justice does not need to wait for data to come to the United States to examine it,” he explained. “It can force countries to give it your data without disclosing that access to government, or complying with any European law.”

Smith said 90 per cent of Europeans' data is affected by the Irish warrant case; far more data than is affected by the transatlantic flows governed by safe harbour rules, which Austrian Max Schrems exploded in a European court ruling last year.

Microsoft has sued the US government, challenging its right to access European data in its Dublin data centre. The government can do so because it recognises no territorial limits to US power in its laws: everywhere in the world is the United States.

Smith called it the “defining privacy issue for 2016”. 82 per cent of Facebook’s global user base is served by Dublin.

The case is being heard by the intermediate tier of the appeals courts in the US, and Microsoft expects it to go all the way to the Supreme Court. Smith cited amicus briefs filed by media and technology companies, trade associations, NGOs and computer scientists.

It has potentially cataclysmic consequences for the operation of the US government, particularly in respect to tax revenues.

Microsoft’s chief lawyer thought a safe harbour replacement would be reached eventually. Yet, because it’s “too important to fail”, it may not succeed in the current round of negotiations, which are set to end by January 31st.

But he said it wouldn’t happen just with wishful thinking. The US, having promised to end bulk data collection on its citizens, needed to do a lot more.

Smith didn’t sell his “trustee model” as a cure all, though. Designed to rebuild trust in American companies post-Schrems, the trustee model sees data ownership and management handed to a European company, in the first instances, a subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom. Microsoft employees would have no access to the data at all, and it would therefore comply with European law.

More than 30 companies have filed in support of Microsoft against Uncle Sam, but Google isn't one of them.®


Other stories you might like

  • US won’t prosecute ‘good faith’ security researchers under CFAA
    Well, that clears things up? Maybe not.

    The US Justice Department has directed prosecutors not to charge "good-faith security researchers" with violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) if their reasons for hacking are ethical — things like bug hunting, responsible vulnerability disclosure, or above-board penetration testing.

    Good-faith, according to the policy [PDF], means using a computer "solely for purposes of good-faith testing, investigation, and/or correction of a security flaw or vulnerability."

    Additionally, this activity must be "carried out in a manner designed to avoid any harm to individuals or the public, and where the information derived from the activity is used primarily to promote the security or safety of the class of devices, machines, or online services to which the accessed computer belongs, or those who use such devices, machines, or online services."

    Continue reading
  • Intel plans immersion lab to chill its power-hungry chips
    AI chips are sucking down 600W+ and the solution could be to drown them.

    Intel this week unveiled a $700 million sustainability initiative to try innovative liquid and immersion cooling technologies to the datacenter.

    The project will see Intel construct a 200,000-square-foot "mega lab" approximately 20 miles west of Portland at its Hillsboro campus, where the chipmaker will qualify, test, and demo its expansive — and power hungry — datacenter portfolio using a variety of cooling tech.

    Alongside the lab, the x86 giant unveiled an open reference design for immersion cooling systems for its chips that is being developed by Intel Taiwan. The chip giant is hoping to bring other Taiwanese manufacturers into the fold and it'll then be rolled out globally.

    Continue reading
  • US recovers a record $15m from the 3ve ad-fraud crew
    Swiss banks cough up around half of the proceeds of crime

    The US government has recovered over $15 million in proceeds from the 3ve digital advertising fraud operation that cost businesses more than $29 million for ads that were never viewed.

    "This forfeiture is the largest international cybercrime recovery in the history of the Eastern District of New York," US Attorney Breon Peace said in a statement

    The action, Peace added, "sends a powerful message to those involved in cyber fraud that there are no boundaries to prosecuting these bad actors and locating their ill-gotten assets wherever they are in the world."

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022