Microsoft to Obama administration: The world’s servers are not yours for the taking

“Microsoft’s fight against the US position that it may search its overseas servers with a valid US warrant is getting nasty,” David Kravets reports for Ars Technica.

“Microsoft, which is fighting a US warrant that it hand over e-mail to the US from its Ireland servers, wants the Obama administration to ponder a scenario where the ‘shoe is on the other foot,'” Kravets reports. “‘Imagine this scenario. Officers of the local Stadtpolizei investigating a suspected leak to the press descend on Deutsche Bank headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany,’ Microsoft said. ‘They serve a warrant to seize a bundle of private letters that a New York Times reporter is storing in a safe deposit box at a Deutsche Bank USA branch in Manhattan. The bank complies by ordering the New York branch manager to open the reporter’s box with a master key, rummage through it, and fax the private letters to the Stadtpolizei.'”

“In a Monday legal filing with the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals, Microsoft added that the US government would be outraged,” Kravets reports. “‘This case presents a digital version of the same scenario, but the shoe is on the other foot,’ the Redmond, Washington-based company said in its opening brief in a closely watched appeal… Other companies in the tech sector are siding with Microsoft, too. Apple, AT&T, Cisco, and Verizon all agree with Microsoft… Apple and Cisco said that the tech sector is put ‘at risk’ of being sanctioned by foreign governments and that the US should seek cooperation with foreign nations via treaties, a position the US said is not practical.”

Read more in the full article here.

54 Comments

  1. Never in the history of being taken, have any group been taken more thoroughly than the Oblahblah voters. Some twice, even! For those doubly duped geniuses, I have a bridge for sale – very cheap.

    They sell us the president the same way
    They sell us our clothes and our cars
    They sell us everything from youth to religion
    The same time they sell us our wars
    I want to know who the men in the shadows are
    I want to hear somebody asking them why
    They can be counted on to tell us who our enemies are
    But they’re never the ones to fight or to die
    And there are lives in the balance
    There are people under fire
    There are children at the cannons
    And there is blood on the wire
    – Jackson Browne

    1. Now you know what most of the world felt when GWB was in the whitehouse for 2 terms. Yes, I’m against the Obama administration doing this, but if you think for 1 second that Romney wouldn’t have done this, or ANY other republican, with the possible exception of Ron Paul, then you’re living in a fool’s paradise.

      1. You don’t know what Romney would have done (not my first choice, by the way).

        Some things are for sure, though, With Romney, we’d be getting people off food stamps instead of setting new all-time records. We’d be bringing unemployment down by actually creating new jobs instead of causing people to just give up looking and drop out of the count. We’d have a strong foreign policy instead of being treated like spineless pansies by tinpot dictators. When we said something, drew a “red line” somwhere, there’d by consequences if it was crossed. American citizens wouldn’t be getting their heads lopped off. We wouldn’t be creating more debt than all other previous administrations combined. We wouldn’t be flushing away our world-leading health care system, but we’d be improving it instead – by allowing the sale of health insurance across state lines, for example. We’d have a secure border first, then considered immigration reform second.

        Want more examples?

          1. No, you lie. I present facts.

            Romney’s MA healthcare plan:
            -Whole bill was 70 pages
            -Romney vetoed significant sections of the bill including the employer penalty for not providing health insurance
            -Romney favored an “opt out” provision from the mandate
            -No federal gov. insurance option
            -Intended as a market driven solution to healthcare

            Obamacare mess:
            -Whole bill was 2,074 pages
            -Very broad regulation of the insurance industry including an employer penalty for not providing health insurance and no “opt out” provision
            -Leaves open the option of creating single-payer gov. insurance in the future
            -Intended as a step toward gov. run insurance

            Romney’s MA healthcare plan:
            -No new taxes!
            -Romney balanced the state’s budget first, then passed healthcare law
            -No cuts to Medicare benefits
            -Modest cost to state (only added 1% to state budget)

            Obamacare mess:
            -Increased taxes by $500 billion
            -Despite massive federal gov. debt, Obama still passed Obamacare
            -Cuts Medicare by $500 billion
            -Overall costs unknown

            Romney’s MA healthcare plan:
            -Very strong bipartisan support
            -Strong special interest support
            -Very popular among the public in Massachusetts
            -Strong consensus of approval was built in the state to support the law
            -Consensus was built to support an individual mandate

            Obamacare mess:
            -Absolutely no bipartisan support
            -Very controversial and divided special interest groups
            -Unpopular in nation overall
            -No consensus was built to support a mandate

            Romney’s MA healthcare plan:
            -A state solution to a state problem
            -Through collaboration and discussion, Massachusetts created a consensus among stakeholders to support the new law

            Obamacare mess:
            -Federal gov. “one-size-fits-all” plan
            -Doesn’t take into account that each state is unique in important ways such as:
            1) Vastly different debt levels between states (some states can’t afford new spending on health care)
            2) Some states have three times the percentage of uninsured citizens (Much greater costs will be imposed on states with a larger percentage of uninusured citizens)
            3) Conservative states will reject implementation of federal gov. plan.

      2. Ron: You are exactly right. First 2014 in his post above uses lyrics from a Jackson Browne song penned as a protest against U.S. activities in Central America during the Reagan administration. The song was used in several places during a Bill Moyers documentary about those activities and the resulting threat to the U.S. Constitution.

    2. Total ignorant hate. Bush tortured. Bush stole $15 trillion dollars. Bush invaded two countries for the sole purpose of giving them to Halliburton, in those wars Bush murdered more than 100,000 innocent civilians, while the Bush Depression was the worst in history. Now, under President Obama the economy is the best it has ever been. He has restored Democracy to America.

        1. Bottom line – Obama was handed an economy shedding 500,000 jobs every month for six months straight, a wall street collapse on par with the Depression, the total wipeout of pensions of middle america by swindlers in finance, and today Wall street is at record highs, we’ve created jobs at a rate equal to the highest ever achieved by any other president, and he did it all while Rethugs were intent on destorying this nation and punishing us for electing a black man.

            1. Not a fan of most politicians, while I agree that Obama started with a mess. I think it is hard to make a case that Obama did anything to help the mess. The US economy mostly fixed itself. Obama actually has probably gotten in the way of things getting better quicker.

    3. First then…. Sad, just so sad.
      You said, “Some things are for sure, though, With Romney, we’d be getting people off food stamps instead of setting new all-time records”

      Let me rant here about all these Republicians who want to decrease costs to America. By giving the rich Billionaires tax breaks and decreasing help to those in need.

      Yep all we have to do is export the poor then we do not have to give them help. If you ever lose your job cause some greedy company moves all its work to Asia, you can leave the country too cause all we want is rich folk … who deserve all the money…. Like Madoff, you know getting rich the old fashion American way…. Stealing it.

      We all have good times and bad times in our lives. The key is helping people get back up. Then they pay taxes to help others get back up. Just saying.

      1. Handouts hurt people more than the help them. History proves this.

        In his January 1964 State of the Union address, President Lyndon Johnson proclaimed, “This administration today, here and now, declares unconditional war on poverty in America.”

        In the 50 years since that time, U.S. taxpayers have spent over $22 trillion on anti-poverty programs. Adjusted for inflation, this spending (which does not include Social Security or Medicare) is three times the cost of all U.S. military wars since the American Revolution. Yet progress against poverty, as measured by the U.S. Census Bureau, has been minimal, and in terms of President Johnson’s main goal of reducing the “causes” rather than the mere “consequences” of poverty, the War on Poverty has failed completely. In fact, a significant portion of the population is now far less capable of self-sufficiency than it was when the War on Poverty began.

        Despite this mountain of spending, the poverty rate this year was about 14 percent, essentially the same rate as in 1967, three years after the War on Poverty was announced.

        The only thing government handouts really help, beyond making simpletons feel like they’re “doing something,” is the perpetuation of government bloat.

        Welfare’s purpose should be to eliminate, as far as possible, the need for its own existence. – Ronald Reagan

            1. he was elected president in ’64, after the cuckoo d’etat of ’63…followed by the wholesale slaughter of 55,000 American men and 1,100,000 of the “enemy” and the enrichment of US defense contractors and the installation of absolute, unchecked power of the national security state. The War On Poverty pales to these “achievements” of Lyndon and Robert Strange McNamara. I’m confident that the two of them are enjoying their Christmas Eve in Hell.

      2. For a truly eye-opening account of the history of wealth and its inequality, read Thomas Piketty’s book, “Capital in the 21st Century”. It will blow your mind. His data are irrefutable. Wealth today is distributed as unequally as it was before the French Revolution. He shows the growth of wealth accumulation greatly favors those who already have wealth. (Should be no surprise, really; just look around you.) Basically, it is folly to offer special tax breaks to the wealthy, because the rich have already benefited hugely from a capital system that favors wealth.

        If you look at the distribution of wealth by percentile of the population, the curve rises exponentially. The top 10% own exponentially more wealth than the lowest 10%, and more than the lower 90% combined. The surprising point Piketty makes is that the same trend holds for those in the top 1% to those in the top 10%. And again, for those in the top 0.1% compared with the top 1%. And the top 0.01% compared with the 0.1%. Within each interval, the wealth curve rises exponentially. It is hard to fathom how the wealthiest people own a disproportionately large share of the country; indeed, the world.

        Piketty is French economist. The book is written in a bit of an academic style, and is somewhat repetitive (like many books of this type) but it is well worth reading. Reviews and synopses can be found online, but you need to read the book if you want to see his many excellent graphs and charts of data.

        Incidentally, the author lambasts the existing economics profession for failing to look at the all-important personal and societal issue of wealth accumulation and distribution in the modern era. Consequently, a lot of economics policy today is based on ignorance of a Dickensian proportion. (Eg, “Are there no work houses?” …when Scrooge is asked for a charitable donation.)

        It will change your mind about how you see wealth. And will open your eyes to the extent of the inequity around us. You will begin to see the extent to which Piketty has stimulated others to write about wealth inequality in the general press.

    4. You do know Jackson Browne is a progressive liberal and not ashamed to be called such, don’t you?

      “They can be counted on to tell us who our enemies are
      But they’re never the ones to fight or to die”

      Refers to the chickenhawks that populate the Republican Party/ The whole thing was written at the time of the Reagan Administration and it’s covert wars and illegal arms trading with Iran.

      Republicans these days are all too happy to start another war, just don’t ask for taxes to pay for it or for their kids to serve. Mitt Romney had the gall to equate his and his children’s Mormon missionary work in France to military service during wartime. Dennis Hastert- Republican Speaker of the House when we went into Iraq- got out of the draft for a bum knee that was not good enough to serve in the Army but was good enough to Wrestle in College.

      I am no fan of Obama because he is a Republican at heart and a Democrat in Name Only. Read the American Conservative article by Bruce Bartlett- who served in both the Reagan and GHW Bush administrations.

      http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/obama-is-a-republican/

      Microsoft is correct on this point.

      Happy Festivus

    5. Oh, go fuck yourself. If Bush hadn’t browbeat the American people that any attempt to protect the Constitution automatically made you a terrorist with the blood of 3,000 people on your hands, we wouldn’t be here.

      For eight long years, Democrats railed against exactly these policies, and it was the Rethugs who labeled it collaborating with the enemy. Reigning in these police powers was exactly what the Rethugs used to attack Obama in 2008. Every time he remotely proposed returning to constitutional protections and not spying on every American right wingers like yourself trotted out your ‘Osama luvs the Muslim Terrorists more than ‘Mericans!’ signs and memes.

      Don’t piss on our legs now and tell us it’s raining.

  2. 2014, what you actually did was prove Ron’s point. You might also have mentioned that no president more than Richard “Tricky Dick” Nixon subverted the U.S. Constitution.

      1. To the fake “historian”.
        “Prove that statement with examples. ” Hmmm, guess you have never heard of Watergate or the many other examples that have come to light since then. If you need more, just use Google. its pretty easy.

        1. Obama’s executive action on immigration is in effect legislation and therefore violates the U.S. Constitution’s separation of powers. – U.S. District Court Judge Arthur J. Schwab, December 17, 2014

          That alone is more than Nixon ever did to “subvert the U.S. Constitution.”

          Thanks for playing.

  3. ‘ …we are just x days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.’

    why does this white house and doj act like enemies of the state. their self-important conduct just tears at the country’s constitutional sovereignty and integrity. they’re like little idi amin’s that play a lot of golf.

  4. This does pose an interesting conundrum: If I want to keep my nefarious communications out of the hands of local authorities, all I need do is use an off-shore email server with a little PGP encryption on my virtual machine that has only ephemeral logs. Sounds like a plan!

  5. This may seem out of place but I’d like to comment on the story. I am totally behind Microsoft on this.

    PS- most of the comments above sound like ravings of madmen. Pretty scary from ends of the spectrum.

    PPS- Merry Christmas (or your holiday of choice)

  6. The Jackson Browne lyrics are far more appropriate to the unholy alliance between George ‘Dubya’ Bush and Tony ‘Princess’ Blair, whose blatant lies dragged the UK into a useless and ultimately unwinnable war that cost the lives of hundreds of our servicemen and tens of thousands of civilians, for which he will never be forgiven.

  7. Microsoft certainly has the moral high ground in this issue, that’s not hard to do but the analogy is poorly chosen, after all Germany is a civilized country, they don’t to my knowledge invade countries on a whim, nor do they do spying industrial espionage, sabotage, and certainly they do not torture others anymore. It goes to follow that they would respect the sovereignty of other countries, a principle of the United Nations.

    The US judge is correct in their view “It is a question of control, not a question of the location of that information,” and the United States (government) is desperate to control the situation, all situations, regardless of how they do it, even if it means sacrificing any and all moral and ethical concepts. Of course this has consequences and left unchecked can become a threat to global security.

    That’s why it is important for those who can stand up against this global wannabe bully do so. After all

    “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

    Edmund Burke, an Irish statesman said that. It’s very insightful.

  8. I would like to see Microsoft remove its internal NSA flag code and have all Office programs stop calling home first before telling the government to back off. Why do you think Internet Explorer is the browser of choice for the government websites that are published to collect from those who would like to participate in the NSA, CIA. FBI, etc.?

    It created the over $trillion per year software security issues. It has been glad-handing the government from day one. Now it is saying “leave my offshore accounts alone”?

          1. The greatest evils are to be found in practices of the state. For all the villainy and vice of private men and their cartels, the moral basis of the social sphere must adhere in the just decisions of the estates of the realm; an inherent fault, for chambers of power are less often occupied by the just, than by the ambitious, the expedient, the ruthless, and the weak. — Santayana

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