Apple, HP, Amazon and Cisco are among a bevy of industry heavyweights, trade groups and leading computer academics to add their weight to Microsoft’s legal case against the US over access to cloud data stored in servers overseas.
A total of 28 technology and media companies, 35 computer scientists and 23 trade associations and advocacy organisations have filed documents to the courts siding with Microsoft in the case.
Other notable companies to back Microsoft include eBay, AT&T, Infor, Salesforce and Rackspace. The Open Rights Group and American Civil Liberties Union have also given their backing.
The case relates to US demands for Microsoft to provide access to data stored on its servers in Ireland. Microsoft has refused to hand over the data, even risking a contempt of court action in the process, as it appeals against the ruling.
The case headed to the US Second Circuit Court of Appeal in New York last week, where Microsoft argued that the requests are unduly excessive and would severely damage the use of cloud services.
This has clearly struck a chord with other tech vendors and industry bodies, leading to the mass of support for Microsoft.
Brad Smith, general counsel and executive vice president of legal and corporate affairs at Microsoft, said in a blog post that the support from such a broad range of companies and organisations underlines the importance of the case.
“Seldom has a case below the Supreme Court attracted the breadth and depth of legal involvement we’re seeing today,” he said.
“Collectively these briefs make one conclusion unmistakably clear. This case involves not a narrow legal question, but a broad policy issue that is fundamental to the future of global technology.”
Smith again outlined Microsoft's arguments that relevant laws exist to allow access to data when required, and that the efforts in this case overplay the government's hand.
"The US has well-established treaties with countries around the world that allow them to seek the information they need while ensuring that citizens of other countries retain the privacy protections offered by their own laws and courts," he said.
"And there’s ample opportunity for work to modernise these agreements further."
The case could have huge implications for the cloud market. If the US government wins at the appeal stage, many businesses may be wary of using US cloud providers if the data can be accessed so easily by the US authorities.
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