Updated Feb 27, 2018

What Microsoft will tell the Supreme Court today

A Microsoft office building in Beijing. Photo: Greg Baker / Getty

Microsoft appears before the Supreme Court today on a case addressing whether law enforcement can demand data that's stored in a foreign server but accessible from the U.S., or if it needs the foreign nation to demand it for them. The decision could put American companies in jeopardy, argues Microsoft president and chief legal officer Brad Smith.

The bottom line: "If customers around the world believe that the U.S. Government has the power to unilaterally reach into data centers operated by American companies, without reference or notification to their own government, they won’t trust this technology," Smith writes in a blog post published Tuesday morning.

The Justice Department believes that when data can be accessed from the U.S., search and seizure would take place in the U.S., not in the foreign country.

  • On the other hand: Microsoft will argue that data "has a real, physical location" wherever the server is located. The blog notes 51 computer scientists cosigned a legal brief to that effect. With physical evidence, the U.S. must abide by the treaties it had signed outlining a process to request retrieval of whatever they are seeking.
  • Other nations want the U.S. to respect their sovereignty: The blog notes that Ireland, France and various entities in the European Union have all asked the U.S. to request data through the standard process.
  • Reciprocity: If the U.S. ignores that process for data in other nations, other countries could demand data stored in the U.S.

Go deeper

America's rundown roads add to farmers' struggles

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

American farmers are struggling to safely use the roads that cut through their fields; decades of neglect and lack of funding have made the routes dangerous.

The big picture: President Trump has long promised to invest billions in rural infrastructure, and his latest proposal would allocate $1 trillion for such projects. Rural America, where many of Trump's supporters live, would see a large chunk of that money.

South Korea and Italy see spikes in coronavirus cases

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The novel coronavirus continues to spread to more nations, and the U.S. reports a doubling of its confirmed cases to 34 — while noting those are mostly due to repatriated citizens, emphasizing there's no "community spread" yet in the U.S. South Korea's confirmed cases jumped from 204 on Friday to 433 on Saturday, while Italy's case count rose from 3 to 62 as of Saturday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed at least 2,362 people and infected more than 77,000 others, mostly in mainland China. New countries to announce infections recently include Israel, Lebanon and Iran.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 22 mins ago - Health

Centrist Democrats beseech 2020 candidates: "Stand up to Bernie" or Trump wins

Bernie Sanders rallies in Las Vegas, Nevada on Feb. 21. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Center-left think tank Third Way urgently called on the Democratic front-runners of the 2020 presidential election to challenge Sen. Bernie Sanders on the South Carolina debate stage on Feb. 25, in a memo provided to Axios' Mike Allen on Saturday.

What they're saying: "At the Las Vegas debate ... you declined to really challenge Senator Sanders. If you repeat this strategy at the South Carolina debate this week, you could hand the nomination to Sanders, likely dooming the Democratic Party — and the nation — to Trump and sweeping down-ballot Republican victories in November."