According to a survey recently published by Microsoft, a large proportion of Irish people think that online privacy is important and that people should not need to give up privacy and freedom for safety from crime and terrorism.

The survey published by Microsoft, and carried out by Amárach Consulting, focused on Irish peoples’ attitudes toward online and digital data privacy and security. Microsoft commissioned the survey as part of its on-going legal challenge to a US warrant which compels Microsoft to produce data held in a Microsoft data centre in Dublin.

Microsoft is arguing that US authorities cannot make an order for data held in another jurisdiction without respecting local laws. While the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty allows US prosecutors to apply to the Irish courts for the release of information, it seems that there has been no communication under this process to date. Under the survey, only 9 per cent of those surveyed said Microsoft should be allowed to comply with the US court order for information stored in Dublin.

While it is clear that the Microsoft case raises issues in relation to Irish data protection law and online privacy, the issues at stake are also relevant for the EU as a whole. Accordingly a request has been made by the Minister for European Affairs and Data Protection, Dara Murphy T.D., to the European Commission to ask it to submit an “amicus curiae” brief in the US court case involving Microsoft, which will be heard in December.