Checking email from the beach, Washington?

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Many Washington officials are hitting the beach this week, but Microsoft isn’t letting that stop its campaign against the Justice Department over emails on the company’s servers.

Starting Wednesday, the software giant is running full-page ads in the newspapers of a number of popular beach spots frequented by Washingtonians to make the case for why the company should not have to turn over emails stored on a foreign server. The ads are running in weekly newspapers in Rehoboth Beach, Del., Martha’s Vineyard and North Carolina’s Outer Banks.

“Checking email from the beach, Washington?” Microsoft says in the ad, which refers vacationers to a website it set up about the case. “Then you may be just as concerned as most Americans about who has access to your emails saved in the cloud.”The company noted that 83 percent of people in a recent poll it commissioned thought that the same protections should apply to information stored digitally as on paper.

“Microsoft believes you own your emails no matter where they are stored,” it said. “That’s why we’ve gone to court to ask the government to follow long-established, internationally agreed upon processes to obtain emails rather than forcing technology companies to turn them over.”

The tech firm’s case against the Justice Department centers on a warrant it received to hand over information about a user’s emails and records, which are stored in a data center in Ireland. Microsoft has said that the U.S. does not have the authority to nab information stored abroad with a simple warrant, and instead should go through a treaty process to get the evidence.

So far, the company has not had much success in court.

A federal judge recently ruled against the software company, though Microsoft has pledged to appeal.

Other major tech firms including Apple, Verizon and AT&T have signed on in support of Microsoft, as has the digital rights organization Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Written by: Julian Hattem


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