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Microsoft to offer non-US customers international data storage in the wake of NSA revelations

Privacy advocates welcome the move
Thu Jan 23 2014, 11:25
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SOFTWARE COBBLER Microsoft has said that it will offer non-US customers data storage outside the US, following revelations that the US National Security Agency (NSA) monitors foreign citizens' internet traffic.

Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith announced the news to the Financial Times. He said that while other, unnamed information technology companies are opposed to offering foreigners data storage options outside the US (paywalled), it has become necessary for Microsoft due revelations that the NSA is monitoring the data transmissions of foreign citizens from Brazil to across the EU.

He said that although the move is likely to be expensive, customers could choose where their data is stored from a wide range of Microsoft data centers. For example, a customer based in Europe could choose to have their data stored in Microsoft's Ireland data center.

"People should have the ability to know whether their data are being subjected to the laws and access of governments in some other country and should have the ability to make an informed choice of where their data resides," Smith said.

Smith's announcement was received well by privacy advocates. Jeff Chester, a US privacy activist told the Financial Times, "It's incredibly positive. If they're really making a public commitment to store [data] locally then they will be breaking with the rest of the industry."

However, others have argued that the move won't do much good in light of the NSA surveillance revelations, claiming that if the NSA asks Microsoft to hand over a user's data, it will do so no matter where that data is stored.

Microsoft is so far the only company to announce such a move, despite surveillance leaks having revealed last year that the NSA also monitored the private networks of Google and Yahoo. µ

 

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