Battle between Microsoft and the US Gov. Related to Silk Road Emails

The long-running battle between the tech giant Microsoft and the US government is over government’s access to an Irishman’s emails, which are purportedly related to Silkroad investigation. The emails stored in servers on Ireland have become the center of controversy as Gary Davis was accused of being part of the now defunct illegal online drugs black market Silkroad as an administrator.

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microsoft-email-battler-silk-roadAccording to the report, the said email account belonged to the 28-year old alleged Silkroad administrator, Gary Davis, from Wicklow, Ireland. The report also noted that the federal investigators filed a warrant in 2013 seeking access to his emails. Currently, he is fighting a legal battle to prevent extradition to the U.S. on charges that he operated as a Silkroad administrator. Though Davis appeared in a court in Dublin recently in this connection, the case has been adjourned to 8th July.

The online drug marketplace Silkroad, which was shut down in 2013 by the law enforcement authorities, operated on the dark web using the hidden service Tor so that users could buy illegal items such as drugs, fake documents, and weapons anonymously. The creator of Silkroad, Ross Ulbricht, has been served a life sentence after he was found guilty of charges including money laundering, conspiracy to drug trafficking, and computer hacking.

Paul Ennis, a researcher at the Center for Innovation, Technology and Organization of the University College Dublin, reportedly said that the U.S. government would not upset an ally like Microsoft or the country Ireland. This was happening only because of the embarrassment caused by Silkroad.

Ddavisavis himself provided further evidence when he tweeted that he feels that the battle between Microsoft and the U.S. government is centered on his emails, linking to the Silkroad case.

The battle between the tech major and the federal government can be traced back to December 2013 when District Court in the U.S. passed a judgment in connection with the Silkroad case, compelling Microsoft to hand over the emails belonging to a person whose nationality was not known but was suspected to be a drug trafficker.

Microsoft promptly handed over the information (not related to content) that had been stored on their servers in the U.S. but refrained from handing over the emails, saying that the federal government did not possess the rights to access content that is stored on servers located outside the U.S.

The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in the U.S. is currently considering the case and the privacy advocates and technology companies are eagerly awaiting judgment in the case related to Silkroad investigations. In this connection, it is important to note that other technology companies have filed amicus briefs like Apple, Verizon, AT&T, Amazon and Cisco in support of Microsoft. The ACLU, the Irish government, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Electronic Frontier Foundation have also backed the stance taken by Microsoft.

E. Joshua Rosenkranz, the lawyer representing Microsoft in this case about Silkroad investigation, cited an opinion of the Supreme that was issued in another case that would back up its argument that the U.S. laws are not applicable outside the country unless it has been explicitly provided for by the Congress.

It is expected that the court would give its ruling on the Silkroad related case sometime next month. However, it is also anticipated that the losing side is likely to appeal the ruling in the Supreme Court.

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