Apple stands by Microsoft against 'global search warrant' as case moves to Supreme Court

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Microsoft's long-running battle with the Department of Justice over a federal court ruling that could force American companies to hand data about foreign customers over to the U.S. government will soon be heard by the Supreme Court.

Apple was among nearly 300 organizations and individuals who signed fresh amicus briefs in the case, Microsoft's top lawyer Brad Smith announced on Friday. Smith called the wide-ranging coalition "extraordinary."

"Members of Congress took the same position as members of the European Parliament. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce approvingly quoted a statement by the European Commission. Business groups and big companies agreed with consumer and privacy advocates. Faculty from Harvard joined with professors from Princeton. Professors from Duke joined rivals from the University of North Carolina, while those at Berkeley sided with Stanford. And Fox News agreed with the American Civil Liberties Union," he observed.

Microsoft is appealing portions of a warrant issued by U.S. magistrate judge James Francis IV ordering the company to give U.S. authorities access to email data from an Irish customer. That data is held in Ireland, and Microsoft charges that complying with the order would force it to break Irish data protection laws.

Apple has been supporting Microsoft in the fight since 2014. The company, along with networking giant Cisco, was one of the first to sign on.

The Supreme Court is set to take up Microsoft's case next month.