The lasting damage inflicted upon American tech companies by the out of control NSA surveillance machine never gets the attention that it deserves. While the ongoing trashing of civil liberties, the gutting of the constitution and the complete elimination of all rights to privacy have turned this once great country into a borderline totalitarian state, the effects of government spying have been nothing short of devastating to business. The inability to protect privacy along with the ongoing NSA efforts to crack encryption and lack of NSA oversight are putting American business at a long-term competitive disadvantage. Once there has been sufficient development of systems in other countries that offer a degree of protection for consumers and laws that protect them from warrantless bulk data collection there will be an exodus that will only further damage an already reeling economy. The leaders of the big tech corporations get this too. They have appealed to President Barack Obama to reign in his renegade American Stasi on more than one occasion. Yet the machine only becomes more deeply entrenched in a protected position from accountability.
The latest blow to American big tech comes courtesy of U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska who has ruled that Microsoft must surrender customer emails stored on a server in Ireland. Microsoft had fought a warrant on the basis that the overseas subsidiary was outside of the country and therefore not subject to the demands of U.S. authorities. The Redmond, WA based company has no doubt incurred the ire of the Obama regime and the national surveillance state by openly and defiantly challenging National Security Letters (NSL). Microsoft is a corporation with the resources, brand name clout and army of lawyers that can actually fight back against Leviathan. They recently won a battle with the FBI over an NSL, putting a huge bug up the ass of Eric Holder at the Justice Department. As Reuters reports in a story entitled “Microsoft ordered by U.S. judge to submit customer’s emails from abroad”:
Microsoft Corp must turn over a customer’s emails and other account information stored in a data center in Ireland to the U.S. government, a judge ruled on Thursday, in a case that has drawn concern from privacy groups and major technology companies.
Microsoft and other U.S. companies had challenged the warrant, arguing it improperly extended the authority of federal prosecutors to seize customer information held in foreign countries.
Following a two-hour court hearing in New York, U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska said a search warrant approved by a federal magistrate judge required the company to hand over any data it controlled, regardless of where it was stored.
“It is a question of control, not a question of the location of that information,” Preska said.
The emails were classified not as private communications by the Obama regime but as “business records” which are subject to government confiscation under that most anti-American of laws that is the USAPATRIOT Act. The law was crammed down the throats of fear-stricken Americans in the aftermath of 9/11 with zero debate. The U.S.Congress completely rolled over despite a transformational law contradictory to the very nature of a free society. The law was originally given a sunset provision which in a rational country would be simply allowed to expire after the state of emergency. But here in what used to be the “land of the free and the home of the brave” the renewals keep coming as does the legal chicanery from the executive branch that further cement fascism firmly into place within the American judicial system.
This is the way that it now works in The Homeland. When a judge rules against the intrusions of the feds as happened back in December when Federal judge Richard Leon ruled that the NSA bulk collection of telephone records was likely “unconstitutional” and definitely “Orwellian” it isn’t allowed to stand. The usual defenders of the national surveillance state including Bush administration Attorney General Michael Mukasey threw a tantrum and the very next week in another court, an NSA friendly verdict was declared. Judge William Pauley effectively nullified Leon’s ruling by declaring such surveillance to be perfectly legal and in doing so erected a veritable firewall against the spying power of big government.
Microsoft ran into that firewall on Thursday showing that the preservation of the critical social control programs of the U.S. government along with the ability to protect the criminals in high places trumps the long-term benefits of American tech corporations.
Microsoft has issued a statement that the ruling will be appealed. It’s time for big tech to unify and lawyer up because it is going to take a lot of money and effort to fight what is a corrupt and rigged system.