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Microsoft victory protects overseas data from US warrants

For the past three years, Microsoft has been locked in a legal battle with the New York district court over a deceptively simple question: does a US Judge have the right to issue a warrant for data stored overseas? According to a new ruling from the US Court of Appeals Second Circuit, the answer, is no.

At issue, specifically, were the contents of an email account stored at a datacenter in Dublin, Ireland. Microsoft refused to release the data because the information was stored on servers physically located outside of the country. The New York court then argued that the Stored Communications Act allowed it to issue a warrant for “information that is stored on servers abroad.” The idea is that if Microsoft owns the overseas server and has the capability of accessing the data, it’s a domestic request regardless of the data storage location. Today’s decision from the Second Circuit shut that idea down.

“We conclude that Congress did not intend the SCA’s warrant provisions to apply extraterritoriality,” the 42-page decision explains. “The SCA warrant in this case may not lawfully be used to compel Microsoft to produce to the government the contents of a customer’s e-mail account stored exclusively in Ireland.”

Naturally, Microsoft is heralding the decision as a victory for privacy, stating that “if people around the world are to trust the technology they use, they need to have confidence that their personal information will be protected by the laws of their own country.” Indeed, that’s what this decision means for now, though it could still be overturned by new legislation at a later date. In fact, that could be the ultimate solution. Microsoft itself argues that the world needs “new legal solutions that reflect the world that exists today, rather than technologies that existed three decades ago.” Sounds like a good idea — so long as the folks making the law understand the technology they’re trying to legislate.

Via: Ars Technica

Source: Microsoft v. United States

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Lithium-ion batteries have massively improved in the last half-decade, but there are still issues. The biggest, especially for EVs, is that charging takes too long to make them as useful as regular cars for highway driving. Researchers from the University of Warwick (WMG) have discovered that we may not need to be so patient, though. They developed a new type of sensor that measures internal battery temperatures and discovered that we can probably recharge them up to five times quicker without overheating problems.

Overcharging a lithium-ion battery anode can lead to lithium buildup, which can break through a battery's separator, create a short-circuit and cause catastrophic failure. That can cause the electrolyte to emit gases and literally blow up the battery, so manufacturers impose strict charging power limits to prevent it.

Those limits are based on hard-to-measure internal temperatures, however, which is where the WMG probe comes in. It's a fiber optic sensor, protected by a chemical layer that can be directly inserted into a lithium-ion cell to give highly precise thermal measurements without affecting its performance.

The team tested the sensor on standard 18650 li-ion cells, used in Tesla's Model S and X, among other EVs. They discovered that they can be charged five times faster than previously thought without damage. Such speeds would reduce battery life, but if used judiciously, the impact would be minimized, said lead researcher Dr. Tazdin Amietszajew.

Faster charging as always comes at the expense of overall battery life but many consumers would welcome the ability to charge a vehicle battery quickly when short journey times are required and then to switch to standard charge periods at other times.

There's still some work to do. While the research showed the li-ion cells can support higher temperatures, EVs and charging systems would have to have "precisely tuned profiles/limits" to prevent problems. It's also not clear how battery makers would install the sensors in the cells.

Nevertheless, it shows a lot of promise for much faster charging speeds in the near future. Even if battery capacities stayed the same, charging in 5 minutes instead of 25 could flip a lot of drivers over to the green side.

Via: Clean Technica

Source: University of Warwick

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