- Saying "no" to the government is never a good idea. But Microsoft had little option.
In a little under a week, Microsoft will again head to a Manhattan court in an effort to try to quash a search warrant, sought by the US Justice Department, in an international drugs-related case.
The warrant itself isn't out of the ordinary, but it does contain a crucial facet: It is demanding data on an email account stored by Microsoft in a datacenter in Ireland.
Microsoft argued the search warrant goes way beyond the means of a traditional search warrant because it forces the company to hand over data it stores in another country, which in itself is subject to different laws and regulations.
This one case will determine -- effectively -- how far the US can use its own legal system to compel companies doing business within its borders to hand over data it stores overseas.
As one report put it, the case will determine whether data has a "nationality."
..."Big deal," you might think. "Why should I care?" Because the case is the first of its kind, it sets up the possibility that -- should the government win -- that it can do this on-demand in the future, without using the courts.
That may have a catastrophic effect on the US businesses -- the same kind of economic impact between China and the US in the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations.