Vermont Joins Feds In U.S. Supreme Court Case Over Email Search Warrants

Oct 20, 2017

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court chose to hear a case over whether email providers must comply with government search warrants, even if the messages in question are stored outside the country. The state of Vermont is taking a central role in the case.

Ahead of the Supreme Court's decision to hear a dispute between Microsoft and the federal government, Vermont filed a brief on behalf of 33 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, all of whom are siding with the federal government.

"Email providers should not be able to evade the reach of law enforcement just by deciding for their own business reasons to store that data overseas," argues Vermont Solicitor General Ben Battles, who filed the states' amicus brief.

Meanwhile, Microsoft argues that such data is off-limits to search warrants when it's stored outside the country.

Battles says Vermont will write another brief in support of the federal government before the case is heard early next year. The court will likely rule by next summer.

Similar cases have been playing out at the state level around the country, including in Vermont. Earlier this year, the Addison branch of the Vermont Superior Court ruled that Google must turn over data in a criminal investigation related to the sexual exploitation of children. Google appealed the ruling to Vermont's Supreme Court.