Greetings from Portsmouth, NH,
Just as all of your Asia-Pacific Dashboard Digest newsletters come from the United States, it must sometimes feel as though many of our greatest privacy conundrums originate here in the States as well. From the innovation of Silicon Valley to the surveillance leader of the "Five Eyes," we seem to be good at pushing the privacy envelope.
The world is certainly watching the U.S. vs. Microsoft case, where Microsoft is battling with the U.S. government over whether it has to turn over data stored on servers on foreign soil upon the demand of a warrant. The issue has reached the U.S. Supreme Court, and Microsoft suddenly finds itself with friends in many corners of the globe, including New Zealand. NZ Privacy Commissioner John Edwards has now filed a brief with the Supreme Court, arguing that any requirement for Microsoft or any other organization to serve up data held in New Zealand would violate NZ law, and that there are already established mutual assistance agreements in place that would allow the U.S. to get such data legally. The European Union and Ireland have also filed briefs in the case, which will be heard sometime in 2018.
What strikes me about this is the great leveling power of the law, whether within a jurisdiction or around the globe. New Zealand's gross domestic product is $185 billion annually. Microsoft, alone, brings in $85 billion in revenue annually. NZ has 5.7 million people. Twenty-four of the U.S. states have more. However, New Zealand isn't just going to roll over and let the U.S. do whatever it likes with the personal data of its citizens, even the personal data of non-citizens that happens to reside on its shores.
Kudos to Edwards for making it clear New Zealand sees itself as a thought leader on the international privacy stage and participating in the global dialogue around how data should be treated as it crosses borders. The world will be watching this case for sure, from the EU to New Zealand and beyond.
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