On February 27, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on a high-stakes case involving the federal government's ability to access data stored abroad by Microsoft. At the heart of the dispute is the Stored Communications Act (SCA) and determining where digital data resides and what protections it should be afforded.

Edward J. McAndrew, Co-Practice Leader of Ballard Spahr's Privacy and Data Security Group and the Leader of its national Cyber Incident Response Team, explained that the justices would likely not be "impressed" by the argument that the government could get the information through a mutual legal assistance treaty (MLAT) rather than an SCA warrant. "If the data is in one country, theoretically you can go through the MLAT process, even though it’s impractical in terms of conducting a law enforcement investigation in real time," he said. "But if the content of the account is separated in shards and stored in servers in 70 different countries, then does law enforcement need to file 70 different MLATs?"

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