In a recent announcement, the Supreme Court of the United States stated that the Trump administration may continue its requests to technology companies for user data and information. The judge’s opinion was handed down on Monday 4th December 2019 in two cases: “Department of Justice v. Microsoft Corporation” and “Department of Justice v. Google LLC”.
At stake are two orders issued by the Trump administration which ask Microsoft to produce customer information stored overseas and a similar request to Google regarding an FBI investigation. Both companies challenge the orders stating that the agencies have gone beyond their jurisdiction by issuing requests for data stored outside of the U.S.
The Supreme Court ruling denies the companies the right to challenge the orders and instead gives Trump’s Dept. of Justice the green light to collect user data as they see fit. This decision is highly controversial due to the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment, which gives citizens of the United States the right to privacy, and the privacy concerns raised by tech companies in regards to their customer data.
In a statement following the ruling, the judges said: “We simply do not know how broad or scholarship the executive branch’s claimed power is, and we are loathe to draw potential constitutional lines in the sand without further argument and evidence in that regard.”
The ruling is seen by many as a blow to tech companies who now may be forced to comply with Trump administration requests or risk a much larger ordeal in court. However, there are still questions regarding the scope of the requests and how much information the administration may collect. It is likely that tech companies, as well as privacy advocates, will be closely monitoring this issue in the coming weeks and months.