Supreme Court to hear US-Microsoft digital privacy case

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Washington (AFP)

The US Supreme Court announced Monday it will hear a landmark privacy case which sees the Trump administration up against computing giant Microsoft.

It will examine whether US law enforcement should be allowed to access evidence held on servers overseas during an investigation.

It comes after Microsoft refused to hand over emails during a US drug trafficking investigation on the basis the police's warrant did not extend to Ireland, where the messages were stored.

US authorities strongly criticized Microsoft's refusal, arguing "hundreds if not thousands of investigations... will be hampered."

The legal battle, launched in 2013, has already endured two rounds -- with a judge initially ordering Microsoft to hand over all related emails in 2014.

Microsoft released all of the information stored in the United States, but refused to do the same for emails hosted in Ireland.

It then got its revenge in July 2016 -- as federal appeals court judges in New York acknowledged allowing US law enforcement to demand evidence stored abroad would open the door for foreign governments to demand data held in the US.

The Supreme Court hearing is set to begin in early 2018, with a ruling expected by the end of June.