Google must hand over user data in foreign data center to US

Google is ordered by a US judge to hand over user information to the government that is stored on a server on another continent. The ruling is striking, because Microsoft has just won a similar case against the US government.

Google wanted to change the court order to release the data of some suspicious persons to make an exception for data not stored in the US, just as Microsoft successfully did earlier this year.

According to the judge, who does not agree with this, the difference between the Microsoft case and the Google case is that this does not concern data stored abroad deliberately. Microsoft’s data was deliberately stored abroad because it also involved a user abroad.

The Google data at issue in this case is not stored abroad for such a reason. Instead, Google’s algorithm did this of its own accord to spread out the demand for storage space, computing power, and bandwidth. The users in this are probably just American. The court considers the government’s request a legitimate application of the Stored Communications Act.

The US government filed a court order with Google on June 30, 2016. The State wanted information about various Google accounts: messages, attachments, metadata and location data. Google largely cooperated with this order, with an exception for four accounts, several of which data is not stored in the US.