It’s cloud illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all
Today’s decision by the Second Circuit that Microsoft did not have to hand over data stored on its server in Ireland should remind us all that information isn’t just “out there.” As with printed information so it is sometimes with electronic data: physical location matters.
The court imposed a major limitation on the scope of a warrant issued under the Stored Communications Act. It reversed the Southern District of New York’s Chief Judge in quashing a warrant issued to Microsoft to turn over emails stored outside the United States. The full opinion is here.
This blog doesn’t usually get into the weeds when it comes to the Stored Communications Act, but we are intensely interested in how to find things and how to get them to the clients who need them.
The case reminds us that even though a lot more information than ever before is stored electronically, it still matters greatly where it is stored. Crucially, electronic storage is not the same as accessibility via the internet.
Even in the U.S, most counties do not put all of their records on line. Those that purport to do so can have less than complete recordkeeping compared to the data that is searchable on site at the local courthouse.
Just the other day we read in the newspaper about an old case in Bergen County, New Jersey that would help our client. The case was nowhere to be found on line at the New Jersey courts website. When our retriever travelled to Bergen County, he was told that the case had been destroyed.
Were we out of luck? No. The same parties had gone at it in another New Jersey county, and had attached a copy of the Bergen County suit to the one in the other county. That other suit (also not on line but visible on the computers on site) had not been destroyed. We were then able to see what the Bergen suit was all about.
None of this was accomplished on the internet, which is just a series of boxes that sit in different rooms in different jurisdictions.
Which jurisdictions the boxes are in can make all the difference.