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Inside Google’s Fight To Keep The US Government Out Of Gmail Inboxes

In at least six separate federal cases, Google is waging a quiet war against the U.S. government. It’s taking the FBI to task over warrants demanding it hand over the contents of Gmail data stored overseas. And because Google stores customer accounts in fragments in servers around the globe, it’s a fight that matters for every email user on the planet, not just non-American Gmail customers.

Alongside unsealed cases in California, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, there are at least three other sealed court battles in which Google has claimed the government has no right to use the Stored Communications Act to demand data the firm holds overseas, sources close to firm’s legal fight told Forbes. That’s on top of multiple sealed state cases, they added.

Its tussle with the government has emerged after Microsoft won a landmark 2016 case against the U.S., in which it prevented the FBI from accessing data it stored in Ireland. That came after two appeals and is only legally binding across courts in the Second Circuit, which covers six districts in Connecticut, New York and Vermont. Now, court documents show that Google, backed by some of its biggest rivals from Microsoft to Amazon to Yahoo, is trying to change the state of play across the rest of America, bringing more privacy to users whose information is stored on foreign soil.

Just a year after Apple’s bitter war with the FBI over a demand the company open the iPhone of San Bernadino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook, the outcomes of these cases will likely have significant ramifications for both the average citizen’s privacy and for law enforcement, which is finding it increasingly difficult to access the information it requires from tech providers. Together, the multiple cases are skirmishes in an increasingly tense war between a government hungry for access to private communications and Silicon Valley firms trying to protect them.

“This is important for personal privacy and for public governance of surveillance,” said Lee Tien, senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). “These cases illustrate our reliance and dependence on intermediaries actually taking our privacy seriously. I applaud companies for fighting for their users’ privacy.

Read full news article on Forbes.com