A US court has recently ruled that it can access emails stored on foreign servers. In a hearing on the 19th April 2017, magistrate judge Laurel Beeler turned down Google’s objections to a US government search warrant seeking data stored on its foreign servers.
The US government issued the warrant on 30th June 2016, citing the Stored Communications Act. Google objected to the search warrant on the basis that the US government cannot force the company to disclose information that is stored outside the United States. Furthermore, Google pointed to an earlier victory between Microsoft and the United States government that meant the United States government could not force Microsoft to hand over data stored on Irish servers.
Despite this, Google could not capitalise on Microsoft’s earlier victory; Judge Beeler insisted the two situations were not the same: “Unlike Microsoft, where storage of information was tethered to a user's reported location, there is no storage decision here. The process of distributing information is automatic, via an algorithm, and in aid of network efficiency.”
The result of the ruling is that if the data can be accessed within the United States, then it falls under the jurisdiction of the United States government. As such, Google must provide all of the Gmail account and message information requested in the warrant.
You can read the entire legal Opinion here.