19 Jan 2018

Press release - DIGITALEUROPE and national associations disagree with the United States of America on the Microsoft Warrant Case

Press release - DIGITALEUROPE and national associations disagree with the United States of America on the Microsoft Warrant Case

DIGITALEUROPE files with the Supreme Court an amicus curia brief that represents 62 multinational technology companies and 37 national trade associations across the EU, accounting for 25,000 SMEs and 2 million employees.

Today, DIGITALEUROPE, BITKOM, TECH IN France, and Syntec Numérique have filed its amicus curiae (friends of the court) brief to the Supreme Court of the United States of America on the Microsoft warrant case. DIGITALEUROPE believes the outcome of the Supreme Court case could lead to unacceptable U.S. Government access to data in Europe, which would violate European law.

“This case is about respecting other nations’ laws and processes”, states Cecilia-Bonefeld-Dahl, Director General of DIGITALEUROPE. “An opinion favouring the US Government may erode the trust of consumers, who rely on the application of E.U., not United States, data privacy rules. Those customers may hesitate to entrust their data to technology companies that are within reach of the United States’ criminal process.”

The amicus brief warns of the risks of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in favour of the US government’s position and the impact it could have on European and U.S. companies:

Companies may have to choose between defiance of a United States warrant or the risk of substantial administrative, monetary, or even criminal penalties if the data transfer runs afoul of the E.U.’s stringent data protection rules. That potential conflict will acutely affect almost every industry stakeholder in the technology community.

Companies may increasingly block cross-border access to data to avoid liability and to satisfy market demand for privacy protection. The partition of the Internet along national borders would adversely affect hundreds of millions of customers who rely on seamless access to data and the other benefits of cloud computing. It also may erode the trust of consumers, who rely on the application of E.U., not United States, data privacy rules. Those customers may hesitate to entrust their data to technology companies that are within reach of the United States’ criminal process.

The foreign policy implications of the government’s position are also troubling. The government’s position may push other countries to retreat from the digital economy and accelerate the trend toward data localization laws that restrict the flow of information across borders. That development would harm U.S. economic and diplomatic interests and inhibit the full economic potential of the Internet. In addition, if the government’s position were the rule, other countries would be able to claim the reciprocal authority to seize data stored in the United States and transfer it abroad without regard to U.S. law or privacy regulations.

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