Google Ordered to Comply with Warrant for Foreign-Stored User Data

In an opinion that departs significantly from one issued by the Second Circuit in 2016 in a similar case against Microsoft, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania held that Google must comply with a subpoena from the Department of Justice (DOJ) for user data stored overseas.

Both courts’ holdings were based on their interpretations of the Stored Communications Act (SCA), which prescribes the ways in which Internet service providers may disclose their users’ information. Both courts agreed that the SCA applies only within the United States, but they differed on where the relevant conduct in such cases takes place. 

The Pennsylvania district court “respectfully disagreed” with the Microsoft court’s finding that seizure of the data abroad was the relevant conduct, and held that the relevant conduct was “the actual invasion of the account holders’ privacy—the searches—[that] will occur in the United States.” As a result, the Pennsylvania district court held that the SCA applies.

Find out what this decision means for U.S.-based cloud services providers and what it implies about the import of the Second Circuit’s Microsoft opinion.

Read the full Client Alert.