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Microsoft Privacy Case: What's At Stake?
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GinoT289
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GinoT289,
User Rank: Strategist
8/2/2014 | 11:13:04 AM
Encryption will save us all!!!
I just love the way they always throw the encryption defense out there. Everyone knows that even the strongest encryption can be broken. That's one of the uses for a computer. It can sit there and bang away for days until it breaks the code. I'm personally staying out of the cloud until my dying day. I don't care who you are or whose encryption you use, once you put your data on someone else's server, you are vulnerable. People who don't believe that will start seeing the results once the majority of businesses and personal computer users have committed to using the cloud. By then it will be too late.
mokuri
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mokuri,
User Rank: Strategist
8/2/2014 | 1:57:49 PM
News or Editorial?
Out of curiosity, is this piece "news," as described above the headline, or an editorial? Seems more the latter. A few examples:


-- "NSA Scandal." Presumably you're referring to the greatest breach of national security in U.S. history? In some quarters, I believe Mr. Snowden's actions are viewed as having crossed the line from whistle-blowing into treason. As an editor dedicated to the principles of objective reporting, you might wish to give that point of view equal space.

-- "Estimated losses of $45B" in foreign sales by US IT companies. Come back to us when you have a hard number on actual losses. Ed Snowden's revelations are near the 14-month mark. Surely someone proclaiming gloom & doom for the US IT industry can produce a verifiable account of so-called lost sales TO DATE. If so, fine, use it in your reporting. If the numbers don't exist, let's drop this argument.

-- Impact on sales to "Russia and China." No surprise there, but suggest you check other headlines. There's this little thing called global sanctions against Russia going on due a conflict in some place called Ukraine. Re: China, I believe economists using actual numbers have noted slowing growth in that country that might contribute to reduced U.S. IT sales there. Also, it's possible that mutual U.S./China accusations over cyberspying might have dampened both countries' enthusiasm for purchasing one another's tech products.

For the record: Last time we checked, China, like Russia, was a bit totalitarian itself. Net net, U.S. companies doing business with such countries might want to check their digital moralmeters. Engaging in commerce with pariah nations that subject their people to every manner of human rights violation is morally wrong. The idea of shedding a tear over lost sales to either nation is laughable.
danielcawrey
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danielcawrey,
User Rank: Ninja
8/2/2014 | 5:28:11 PM
Re: Encryption will save us all!!!
I like the idea of using encryption and allowing users to store keys - although it would have to be done in an easy-to-use manner. 

That being said, I still question whether the government will be able to still get access. If they have the ability to compel Microsortf to turn over data, for example, they might be able to do the same with certain users. 
JeremiahJ242
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JeremiahJ242,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/3/2014 | 6:09:16 AM
The Enforcement Issue
One point I haven't seen brought up yet is enforcement. If Microsoft refuses to hand over the information, does the justice department plan to invade Ireland and violate long held international treaties? I think not. Laws are only as strong as the enforcement that follows them.
asksqn
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asksqn,
User Rank: Ninja
8/3/2014 | 7:07:43 PM
The dog ate it
MS could always pull a Lois Lerner - the dog not only ate its email but also crashed its hard drives -six times in six years.

 
FreonPSandoz
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FreonPSandoz,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/3/2014 | 11:29:43 PM
Re: The Enforcement Issue
No, the court would probably hold Microsoft in contempt and levy a fine for each day that Microsoft refuses to comply.
FreonPSandoz
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FreonPSandoz,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/3/2014 | 11:42:20 PM
Is the subject of the investigation a US resident?
"He also worried the ruling indicates that 'storing data with a company in the U.S. essentially turns you into a U.S. citizen.'" Is that true? I had been assuming that US prosecutors were investigating a US resident in this case. The article doesn't say anything about the residency or citizenship of the investigation subject. It is totally unacceptable for a US police agency or prosecutors to a pursue a foreign resident in such a manner. Does the US allow Russia and Iran to investigate US citizens in this manner? Of course not.
TerryB
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TerryB,
User Rank: Ninja
8/4/2014 | 1:13:40 PM
Re: The dog ate it
Ha! I never have heard what email system IRS uses, it was probably Exchange. So you are right, data may not actually be there when they go get it anyway.
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
8/4/2014 | 4:20:03 PM
Re: Is the subject of the investigation a US resident?
The customer in question is not publicly identified, nor is his country of origin. The data that tech companies are allowed to share regarding government requests is far, far from complete, but suffice to say, the government doesn't just ask about U.S. citizens. The impression I got talking to the people cited in this article is that the final legal rationale will be quite important. For example, even if the case does involve a U.S. citizen (which again, isn't clear), the ruling could still leave open the door for international searches. And if the case involves a foreign citizen, then the issue is academic. It's not like there's been a shortage of bizarre justifications coming out of the judiciary lately, though the courts have been kind of unpredictable regarding privacy and warrants--e.g. the Supreme Court's recent cell phone ruling increased privacy protections. Judges use smartphones, and judges use email too, after all. 


As for whether the U.S. "allows" Russia or Iran to behave similarly-- that's the potential concern, that U.S. will set a precedent for far-reaching searches of electronic data, and that other countries will base their policies similarly.
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
8/4/2014 | 4:22:50 PM
Re: The Enforcement Issue
I doubt the U.S. would physically violate another country's sovereignty over something like an email, but I imagine the government could impose all kinds of financial penalties, and potentially charge Microsoft employees in some way.
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