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The Supreme Court case concerns foreign servers housing Microsoft's consumer email accounts. Photo by Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images

While tech firms are watching Microsoft's Supreme Court case closely, they are most interested in reforming the international legal structure that put Microsoft in this mess in the first place.

The bottom line: Officials from Google and other corners of the industry tell Axios that no matter the outcome, the Supreme Court can't settle this issue — only Congress can.

The backdrop: The Microsoft case concerns the process law enforcement must use to execute a warrant on data held in a foreign server.

  • The Department of Justice believes it should not have to use a time-consuming process of asking another nation for permission to harvest evidence from inside its borders if the data is accessible from within the U.S.
  • Microsoft argues that skipping the process outlined in legal assistance treaties is asking the industry to break another country's laws to abide by the U.S.'s.

What they’re saying: The tech industry, like the DOJ, believes the ideal fix is a congressional one, with both sides backing current legislation under consideration. Tech firms hope the trial won’t derail momentum for the legislation.

  • At Google, an employee familiar with the company’s thinking said that the industry won’t fully get what it wants whether Microsoft wins the case or not. Google is currently embroiled in a similar dispute over cloud-held files as Microsoft.
  • At the industry group BSA | The Software Alliance, Senior Policy Director Tommy Ross urges Congress to act before the case is decided. “The ideal time to compromise on a solution is when neither side knows what the verdict will be,” he said.
  • Companies would ultimately prefer to share evidence so long as its within a reasonable legal construct.

CLOUD Act: The solution before Congress is the bipartisan Clarifying Overseas Use of Information (CLOUD Act).

  • It would create an alternative treaty format where countries reciprocally agree to circumvent the legal assistance treaty process. In other cases, there would be a presumption that companies would share data when required by a warrant, but would provide a statutory right to challenge a potential international issue.
  • The legislation was introduced by Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) in the Senate and Doug Collins (R-GA.) and Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) in the House.

Where it stands: A potential complication is the pending retirement of Hatch, who has been the leading lawmaker voice on detangling the cross-border data issue.

  • Tech firms believe the remaining sponsors will still push for legislation. Graham held hearings on the subject in his Foreign Affairs subcommittee.

Go deeper

At least 3 dead after Amtrak train derails in Montana

Photo: Jacob Cordeiro/Twitter

An Amtrak train derailed near Joplin, Montana, resulting in at least three deaths and multiple injuries to passengers and crew on Saturday, per authorities and a company statement.

The big picture: 141 passengers and 16 crew members were estimated to be on the Empire Builder train, traveling from Chicago to Seattle and Portland, when eight of the 10 cars derailed about 4p.m., Amtrak said early Sunday.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Federal judge blocks vaccine mandate for NYC teachers

Students are dismissed from the first day of school at PS 133 in Brooklyn on Sept. 13. Photo: Michael Nagle/Xinhua via Getty Images

A federal appeals court is set to hear a challenge Wednesday to a vaccine mandate planned for New York City school employees.

Why it matters The vaccine mandate was set to begin on Monday, prompting concerns over staffing shortages in schools across the nation's largest school system. But a judge on Friday temporarily blocked the measure, per AP.

New York prepares for staff shortages from health vaccine mandate

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul during a news conference Tuesday in New York City.. Photo: Mark Kauzlarich/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) announced Saturday she would declare a state of emergency if there were health worker shortages due to New York's upcoming COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

Why it matters: Hochul moved to reassure concerns of staffing shortages in the health care sector in a statement that also outlined plans to call in medically trained National Guard members, workers from outside New York and retirees if necessary when the mandate takes effect Monday.

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