The Justice Department is demanding that a federal judge sanction Google for failing to abide by court orders to turn over data tied to 22 e-mail accounts. “Google’s conduct here amounts to a willful and contemptuous disregard of various court orders,” the government wrote (PDF) in a legal filing to US District Judge Richard Seeborg of California.
The government added in its Wednesday brief:
Google is entitled to have its own view of the law and to press that view before a court of competent jurisdiction. However, when faced with a valid court order, Google, like any other person or entity, must either comply with such an order or face consequences severe enough to deter willful noncompliance. The issue before this court is what sanction is sufficient to achieve that goal.
Google said it wasn’t complying with the order because it was on appeal. Google also said it was following precedent from a New York-based federal appellate court that ruled Microsoft doesn’t have to comply with a valid US warrant for data if the information is stored on overseas servers. Google is appealing the California warrant to the San Francisco-based 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals on the same grounds. However, neither Seeborg nor the 9th Circuit is bound by the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision— which the government has appealed to the US Supreme Court. (The US circuit courts of appeal are not bound to follow rulings by their sister circuits, but they all must obey precedent from the Supreme Court.)