[OPINION] Supreme Court set to establish major precedent in email privacy

By Curt Levy | The Hill

(Editor’s note: Opinion pieces are published for discussions purposes only.)

In the age of cloud computing, wherein we rely on service providers such as Microsoft and Google to store personal data like email and photos, our data is often stored on servers located outside the United States. Nonetheless, U.S. law enforcement agencies increasingly want to get their hands on this extraterritorial data as part of their efforts to fight crime and terrorism. Whether law enforcement officials can compel providers to turn over such data is the subject of both an important Supreme Court case — U.S. v. Microsoft — being argued Feb. 27 and critical legislation — the Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data or CLOUD Act — introduced in Congress this month to modernize the antiquated law governing this question.

Much has been written about the privacy, business, and law enforcement concerns at stake in the Microsoft case and CLOUD Act. Tech companies and national security officials enthusiastically support the act. So do center-right policy organizations, who recognize that two principles shared by virtually all conservatives are also at stake: one, policy decisions should be made by the legislature, not by courts. Two, when the courts construe ambiguous legislation, they should err on the side of limited government power.

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