Railing Against Cyber Imperialism: Discussing the Issues Surrounding the Pending Appeal of United States v. Microsoft Corp.

April 9, 2015

The United States government was granted a wide berth of surveillance powers post 9/11. At a time when Americans felt vulnerable to foreign attack, the executive branch passed the USA PATRIOT Act that balanced a reduction of privacy rights with a promise of increased national security. Twelve years later, Edward Snowden released documents showing exactly how pervasive U.S. intelligence gathering had become. Now, in a post-Snowden world, Americans are struggling to balance privacy rights with national security and effective law enforcement. The recent appeal of the Microsoft Corporation, which involves a warrant for the extraterritorial information of a foreign subject, highlights this struggle and brings it into the spotlight. This Recent Development argues that such extraterritorial warrants are beyond the powers of the executive branch, and need to be tempered by judicial, if not congressional, review. Further, the United States bypassing established treaties and the privacy laws of those nations in order to obtain this information could be seen as aggression against foreign nations. This Article further explores and recommends legal reforms that better accommodate the international nature of the internet and the laws of sovereign nations.