With user trust at an all-time low, keeping the FBI’s hands off foreign users’ data seems like good business sense for U.S. companies. Microsoft says it’s fighting the feds over your email, but it also happens to be fighting to support the Microsoft business model. If your business isn’t like Microsoft (and if you’re a tech company that’s fewer than 10 years old that’s probably you), backing this case might not actually be in your best interest.
Microsoft is trying to stop the U.S. government from using domestic search warrants to access user data that is hosted overseas. Microsoft is arguing that if a government wants to access a user’s email records, it should have to follow the law of the country in which that data is hosted, not the law of the country where the company is based. This aims to build international user confidence in U.S. companies by making it harder for the FBI to access foreign user data. Instead of just getting a search warrant, they would need to go through international channels such as the mutual legal assistance treaty (MLAT) process. However, it’s not only the FBI that would find this process harder; it also creates difficult legal issues for smaller companies with international users.