A US judge has ordered Google to comply with search warrants seeking customer emails stored outside the United States.
US Magistrate Judge Thomas Rueter ruled that transferring emails from a foreign server so FBI agents could review them locally as part of a domestic fraud probe did not qualify as a seizure.
The judge said this was because there was “no meaningful interference” with the account holder’s “possessory interest” in the data sought.
“Though the retrieval of the electronic data by Google from its multiple data centres abroad has the potential for an invasion of privacy, the actual infringement of privacy occurs at the time of disclosure in the United States,” Rueter wrote.
Google said that the magistrate had departed from precedent, and it will appeal the decision.
The ruling came less than seven months after the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in New York said Microsoft Vole could not be forced to turn over emails stored on a server in Dublin, Ireland that U.S. investigators sought in a narcotics case.
The case was watched closely by the EU which was spoiling for a reason to shut the US out of the European cloud business.