By: Alan Wehler, Senior Associate
Over the past year, U.S. courts have grappled with important legal questions surrounding how U.S. law enforcement gains access to data stored in the cloud. On February 3rd U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Rueter issued a decision ordering Google to comply with two Federal search warrants compelling the company to turn over customer email data stored outside of the United States. This decision contradicts a July 2016 decision by the United States Second Circuit Court of Appeals on a similar case involving Microsoft, a decision that court declined to re-hear only a week before Judge Rueter’s decision. Both cases concern Federal search warrants issued under the authorities of the Stored Communications Act (SCA), a 1986 law that dictates how the government is able to obtain access to “stored wire and electronic communications and transaction records.” As one might expect, the law hasn’t held up particularly well over the past thirty years of technological change. Congress didn’t anticipate the invention of cloud computing technologies and never envisioned the complicated, transnational data storage and transit systems technology companies have created to serve their customers.