In today’s Bulldog wrapup of technology news:
- Microsoft wins a court fight over access to cloud data
- More divers emojis are on their way
- The classic Nintendo NES returns
- The EU steps up its fight with Google
- Court: US government can’t make Microsoft reveal cloud data
A federal appeals court delivered a victory to U.S. companies housing customer data overseas, ruling Thursday that prosecutors cannot force Microsoft toreveal content from a customer’s email account stored in Ireland.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan overturned a lower court order finding the company in civil contempt for not handing over the data.
Microsoft offers storage through its “public cloud,” which places data from over 1 billion customers and over 20 million businesses on servers in over 40 countries, the court noted.
The appeals court said Congress passed the Stored Communications Act in 1986 to protect user privacy when new technology causes service providers to store electronic communications for customers. It said Congress expressed concern then that technology developments could erode the privacy interest Americans traditionally enjoyed in records and communications.
“Neither explicitly nor implicitly does the statute envision the application of its warrant provisions overseas,” the appeals court said in a decision written by Judge Susan L. Carney. “We see no reason to believe that Congress intended to jettison the centuries of law requiring the issuance and performance of warrants in specified, domestic locations, or to replace the traditional warrant with a novel instrument of international application.”
The appeals ruling acknowledged that so-called cloud computing had changed the landscape for storage, letting companies hold customer data in distant lands.
“Three decades ago, international boundaries were not so routinely crossed as they are today, when service providers rely on worldwide networks of hardware to satisfy users’ 21st-century demands for access and speed and their related, evolving expectations of privacy,” the three-judge wrote.
The Justice Department said it was disappointed and considering its options.
“Lawfully accessing information stored by American providers outside the United States quickly enough to act on evolving criminal or national security threats that impact public safety is crucial to fulfilling our mission to protect citizens and obtain justice for victims of crime,” Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr said.
Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft Corp. sees the ruling as a “major victory for the protection of people’s privacy rights under their own laws rather than the reach of foreign governments,” Brad Smith, its president and chief legal officer, said in a statement. He said it also “helps ensure that the legal protections of the physical world apply in the digital domain.”
- Women doctors, scientists, welders among 11 new emojis
Women professionals will soon be better represented in emoji form.
Google says Thursday that the Unicode Consortium, which controls emoji standards, has agreed to add 11 new emojis in response to Google’s proposal in May to create a set of emojis “with a goal of highlighting the diversity of women’s careers and empowering girls everywhere.”
Among the new emoji characters is a doctor, a scientist, a farmer and a welder. The characters are available in male forms as well and can be customized for skin tone.
Google’s original proposal said women — and those under 30 in particular — are the most frequent users of emojis.
The new emojis could be available on smartphones before the end of the year.
- Classic Nintendo Entertainment System returning to stores
If you have fond memories of battling King Koopa or tossing barrels as Donkey Kong, you can relive them this fall.
Nintendo is leaping into the nostalgia market by bringing back the classic Nintendo Entertainment System.
The NES Classic edition comes complete with 30 built-in games, including all three “Super Mario Bros.,” ”Donkey Kong,” ”The Legend of Zelda,” and “Punch-Out.”
Nintendo says it’s bringing back the wildly popular system that launched in the 1980s so those who grew up with it can pass gaming memories onto the next generation.
The device looks almost exactly like the original NES, but smaller. It will be able to be hooked up directly to high-definition TVs.
The system goes on sale on Nov. 11. Redmond, Washington-based Nintendo of America says it will retail for $59.99.
- EU widens antitrust probe to include Google ad, shopping biz
The European Union has opened a new front in its battle with Google, accusing the technology giant of abusing its dominant position in the online search market to benefit its own comparison shopping and advertising business.
The EU’s executive branch is already investigating whether Google gives preferential treatment to its own products in its Android operating system.
“Google has come up with many innovative products that have made a difference to our lives,” EU Antitrust Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said Thursday. “But that doesn’t give Google the right to deny other companies the chance to compete and innovate.”
Vestager said Commission’s preliminary probe has revealed that Google has “unduly favored its own comparison shopping service in its general search result pages.”
This, she added, means that “consumers may not see the most relevant results to their search queries.”
Separately, Vestager said the Commission has expressed concern that Google is hindering rivals by limiting their ability to place search adverts on third-party websites.