A British citizen’s UK court action will test the legal right of Microsoft to disclose private data on UK citizens to the US electronic spying organisation, the National Security Agency (NSA).
The case will shine a light on the legality of top secret US court orders which require US technology companies to disclose details of foreign users’ private communications.
Kevin Cahill, a British journalist, has brought the case in the Lord Mayor’s and City of London County Court. The case centres on Cahill’s belief that Microsoft breached the security of his email account.
Cahill argues that, by obeying orders that are legally binding only in the United States, Microsoft has contravened British law – the Data Protection Act in particular.
The action follows revelations by former US intelligence contractor and whistleblower, Edward Snowden. Snowden revealed that the NSA had been collecting metadata about email and other communications from Microsoft since 2007, under its controversial Prism interception programme.
The case will raise questions over the jurisdiction of secret orders made by the US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court against US technology companies operating in the UK.
The other service providers named in the Snowden documents as contributors to the Prism programme are Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube and Apple.