Ireland seeks EU role in case

Ireland has asked the EU to involve itself in a US court case that is trying to force Microsoft’s Irish based company to hand over personal data to the American authorities.

Europe Minister Dara Murphy explained that Ireland co-operates very well with the US, especially on criminal matters, but they wanted them to go through the proper channels.

The EU and the US have international agreements on mutual legal assistance in criminal investigations and Mr Murphy said that these should be used.

But last year Microsoft was served with a criminal search warrant for all content data associated with a specific email account, which is held on servers in the company’s Dublin-based operations. Microsoft was held in contempt when it refused to produce the data and is now before the Court of Appeal in New York on December 15.

The Irish authorities are concerned that if Microsoft loses the case then the US authorities will try to use similar warrants against US service providers for electronic data held in the EU — much of it in Ireland.

Mr Murphy, on behalf of the Irish Government, has asked the European Commission to submit an amicus curiae to inform the Court of the 2003 EU-US Mutual Legal Assistance Agreement.

This agreement, said Mr Murphy, allows the transfer of evidence in criminal investigations according to the laws and procedures of both jurisdictions and ensures that the European Union’s data protection system is protected.



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