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Poyner Spruill files amicus brief with U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of European business organizations

12 January 2018
Poyner Spruill

RALEIGH, NC — Led by partner Saad Gul, the law firm of Poyner Spruill LLP filed an amicus curiae brief on behalf of five European business organizations, asking the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold a lower court's ruling preventing officials from accessing specific private emails housed on a server in Ireland.

The brief—filed Jan. 11—represents the interests of several million commercial enterprises that span the globe in a case—U.S. v. Microsoft—drawing international attention. A lower court ruling last year prevented the U.S. Department of Justice from accessing the information, but an appeal was filed in January.

“This case potentially has significant impact on the global tech economy,” Gul said.

The brief argues that the French, German, Irish, and Polish businesses represented, like all companies operating in the European Union, have ethical and legal responsibilities to adhere to European privacy laws.

In addition, the trade organizations and their members use American technology, products, and services, and an adverse verdict in this case could force businesses to choose between violating either European or American laws. The brief explains that privacy is a fundamental value of European law, and the U.S. Justice Department’s position could force businesses into conflicting legal requirements with a negative effect on global business.

The outcome of this case could change how businesses interact over the internet. Beyond the American technology industry, Poyner Spruill’s brief argues that the ruling could have an effect on “virtually every cross-border data transfer” and set dangerous precedent. If the Department of Justice is granted unilateral access to data in other countries, then foreign authorities would demand equal access to data held by American companies.

Gul is a partner at Poyner Spruill and focuses his practice on privacy and information security. He advises clients on a wide range of appellate, privacy, and cyber liability issues, including risk management plans, regulatory compliance, cloud computing implications, and breach obligations.

Poyner Spruill partner Michael E. Slipsky and associate John M. Durnovich also worked on the brief.

Slipsky is an attorney in the Business Organizations group and has practiced with the firm since 2005, focusing his practice on mergers and acquisitions for companies across a broad range of industries. Slipsky also advises clients on a wide range of privacy and information security issues. Durnovich concentrates his practice in complex civil litigation, representing clients in a wide range of challenges, including antitrust matters, government-related disputes, constitutional litigation, professional malpractice claims, construction disputes, and trade secrets litigation.

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