Microsoft struggles with Belgian court over Skype privacy case


15, 2017

Microsoft has just had a setback in a long-running court case over user data in Belgium.

The case, which dates to 2015, arises from the court asking Microsoft to hand over call data from a user in Belgium using Skype.  The court insisted it had the authority to do this under Belgium’s Telecom Act, but Microsoft claimed Skype was not a telecom operator and did not have the technical capability to comply with the request.

The Belgian Appeals Court today found against Microsoft on this point, ruling that Skype was “indisputably” a telecoms operator and that references in Belgian law to “telecommunication” included “electronic communication”.

They also did not accept Microsoft’s argument that the Belgian courts did not have jurisdiction as Microsoft’s servers and business was based in Luxembourg, saying the data originated in Belgium and upheld the 30,000 euro (£26,932) fine against Skype, and also demanded that the data, which is from a criminal case, be turned over.

Microsoft is considering their legal options, and presumably a further appeal to the Supreme Court of the country.

Microsoft has been making increasing efforts recently to push back against what they consider to be overreach by various governments and had more success in the USA, where they successfully appealed against the US Department of Justice over email data stored on an Irish server. That case is however also going to the Supreme Court and may also eventually be overturned.


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