The Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a search (and seizure) warrant to Microsoft Communications to hand over the private email communications of a suspected drug trafficker. The only problems with the request, however, is that the drug suspect happens to reside in Ireland, the emails being sought are stored on an Internet server located in Ireland, and the server belongs to a subsidiary of Microsoft that operates in Ireland.  Does the U.S. have any legal right to the personal information of foreign citizens?  Does the U.S. have the right to compel a business in a foreign country to cooperate?  What if a foreign country wanted your personal communications, should the U.S. comply?

Microsoft is currently engaged in a legal fight to prevent the release of these emails to the DOJ.  Legal issues aside, there are strong economic reasons for why the DOJ request represents a bad and potentially costly practice for the U.S. economy.  As this ConsumerGram will demonstrate, the fallout of the DOJ’s legal overreach will heighten privacy concerns and distrust of American businesses operating abroad.  The major risk is that it will encourage foreign citizens, companies and countries to stop doing business with U.S. companies operating overseas.

As a response to this issue, Senators Hatch, Coons and Heller have just introduced The Law Enforcement Access to Data Stored Abroad Act.  To appreciate why Congress needs its full and immediate consideration of this legislation is to understand the immense economic repercussions at stake.  As this ConsumerGram will discuss, the adverse consequences of the DOJ’s actions could eventually cost U.S. companies over $180 billion dollars per year and over two million jobs.  It could also permanently stunt the U.S. leadership in the high-tech market for decades to come.

… To continue reading or to print the entire piece, see ACI’s latest ConsumerGram