Microsoft pledges to let EU users keep data inside bloc

Science and Technology

FILE – This Jan. 8, 2021 file photo shows the logo of Microsoft displayed outside the headquarters in Paris. Microsoft’s business beat Wall Street expectations for the first three months of 2021, thanks to ongoing demand for its software and cloud computing services during the pandemic. The company on Tuesday, April 27, 2021 reported fiscal third-quarter profit of $14.8 billion, up 38% from the same period last year. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus, file)

LONDON (AP) — Microsoft is pledging to let business and public sector customers in the European Union keep cloud computing data inside the 27-nation bloc to avert concerns about U.S. government access to sensitive information.

Microsoft “will go beyond our existing data storage commitments and enable you to process and store all your data in the EU,” said Brad Smith, the U.S. technology giant’s president.

“In other words, we will not need to move your data outside the EU,” Smith wrote in a blog post Thursday.

Microsoft is responding to customers that want stronger commitments on so-called data residency, Smith said. The updates will apply to the company’s core cloud services including Azure, Microsoft 365, and Dynamics 365.

Transatlantic data protection has been a growing concern since the European Union’s top court struck down a data sharing agreement last year known as Privacy Shield. The court said the agreement, which allowed businesses to transfer data to the U.S. under the EU’s strict data privacy rules, was invalid because it didn’t go far enough to prevent the American government from snooping on user data.

Microsoft, which operates data centers in 13 European countries including France, Germany and Switzerland, will challenge any government request for an EU public sector or commercial customer’s personal data when there’s a lawful basis for doing so, Smith said.

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