Large-scale spying on your own citizens as well as everyone else across the globe is one sure way to make yourself unpopular, and the U.S. government and intelligence community is starting to pay the price for their arrogant and unethical surveillance activities.
Microsoft’s decision to open up new data centers in Germany is one example of this trend. Germany does not take kindly to the U.S. government spying on its citizens, so Microsoft (and other major tech firms) have decided the best way to protect European customer’s data from the prying eyes of the U.S. NSA is to store it on servers in Germany. That way the data is protected by Germany’s stringent personal data protection laws, so even if the NSA requests data on European citizens, Microsoft can’t provide the data except as permitted under Germany’s privacy laws.
Microsoft to protect European customer data by storing in Germany
Apparently, the new data centers will open in late 2016 and will be operated by a subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom. According to the The Financial Times customers will have to pay a fee to store their data in German data centers.
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“These new data center regions will enable customers to use the full power of Microsoft’s cloud in Germany … and ensure that a German company retains control of the data,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella commented at a press conference in Berlin on Wednesday.
Microsoft’s announcement is the latest move in an ongoing battle between U.S. tech firms and American intelligence agencies over access to foreign personal data. The tech firms obviously want to retain the trust of their users given the known abuses of the U.S. intelligence community, but also have legal obligations to these agencies who demand the same privileged access they’ve always had.
One example of this push and pull legal battle is playing out in a New York court, with the U.S. government saying it wants access to the emails of an American citizen that are stored in Ireland and Microsoft has not turned over the data as it would violate Irish law.