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Google loses symbolic data fight to federal court

Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP

A previously undisclosed court ruling between Google and a Washington D.C. federal court finds that Google's challenge to a search warrant for data it stores abroad was rejected, Politico reports. The judge in the case agreed to hold the company in contempt for violating her order, (something the plaintiff and defendant mutually proposed), with the understanding that the procedural move would allow the case to advance to the Supreme Court for an appeal.

For context: This is part of a bigger showdown between the DOJ and tech companies that the Supreme Court is expected to take up later this year about whether law enforcement can issue a warrant for data stored by tech companies overseas. Last year, a panel of judges ruled in favor of Microsoft in a similar case that determined that the current law about how tech companies can store data doesn't apply outside of the country, and that the DOJ would instead need to request the data through an international process.

Why it matters: Major tech companies that store massive amounts of data around the world are watching cases like these closely. The issue becomes even more complicated and critical as major tech companies begin to store data in "clouds" that can be located anywhere, rather than physical servers in single locations.