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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

2 hours ago - Health

FDA authorizes mix-and-match for COVID booster shots

Photo: Francine Orr/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) on Wednesday gave its approval for Americans to get booster shots that are different from the COVID vaccine they initially received.

Why it matters: The recommendation from the FDA, which also authorized booster shots for people who received Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines on Wednesday, paves the way for an expansion of booster shots.

GOP congressman forfeits committee seats after indictment

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) on Wednesday stepped down from his committee assignments after being indicted for lying to federal investigators amid a probe into illegal campaign donations.

What they're saying: In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Fortenberry said he is "grateful for the outpouring of support from my friends and colleagues as we work against the injustice confronting me."

Rahm Emanuel questioned on murder of Laquan McDonald in confirmation hearing

Rahm Emanuel during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing on Oct. 20. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel spoke about the murder of Laquan McDonald during his Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday to become the U.S. ambassador to Japan, saying that "there's not a day or a week that has gone by in the last seven years I haven't thought about this."

Catch up quick: McDonald was a Black teenager who was fatally shot 16 times by Chicago police during Emanuel's tenure as the city's mayor. The 2014 shooting triggered massive protests, both because of its nature and the fact that the officers' body-cam footage was concealed for years.