U.S. Supreme Court wrestles with Microsoft data privacy fight

Supreme Court justices wrestled with Microsoft’s dispute with the US Justice Department over whether prosecutors can force technology companies to hand over data stored overseas, with some signaling support for the government and others urging Congress to pass a law to resolve the issue. Microsoft argues that laws have not caught up to modern computing infrastructure and it should not hand over data stored internationally. The Justice Department argues that refusing to turn over easily accessible data impedes criminal investigations.

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, both conservatives, indicated sympathy during an hour-long argument in the case toward the Justice Department’s stance that because Microsoft is based in the United States it was obligated to turn over data held abroad sought by prosecutors in a US warrant. Liberal justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor questioned whether the court needed to act in the closely watched case in light of Congress now considering bipartisan legislation that would resolve the legal issue.

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