EU institutions' Microsoft and Amazon cloud service usage under investigation

The Visitor’s Center at Microsoft Headquarters campus is pictured July 17, 2014 in Redmond, Washington.
The Visitor’s Center at Microsoft Headquarters campus is pictured July 17, 2014 in Redmond, Washington. (Image credit: Stephen Brashear/Getty Images for Microsoft)

What you need to know

  • EU institutions use Microsoft's and Amazon's cloud services.
  • As a result of the service providers' contracts and the services themselves, the institutions are at risk of unwanted surveillance.
  • An EU privacy watchdog has opened two investigations concerning the matter.

The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) has launched two investigations concerning EU institutions' usage of Amazon and Microsoft cloud services. Both the services themselves and the contracts associated with them have sparked concerns that Europeans' data is being freely given to the United States, which presents a surveillance and security risk for the EU.

As reported by Reuters, the EDPS launched its investigations as a result of contracts linked to Amazon and Microsoft. These U.S.-based companies are subject to U.S. legislation, and as a result, deals with them open up foreign parties and their associated data to the threat of surveillance.

One of the investigations will specifically target "the use of Microsoft Office 365 by the European Commission," according to the EDPS.

It's no secret that Microsoft and the U.S. government have close ties with one another, especially since the Pentagon itself and Microsoft's cloud services have been interlinked ever since the pair's massive JEDI deal was struck. The implication for foreign bodies, then, is clear: Dealing with a U.S. company that has such a good relationship with the United States government, a government known for its intense surveillance practices, entails risks — risks the EDPS apparently isn't keen on tolerating.

Robert Carnevale is the News Editor for Windows Central. He's a big fan of Kinect (it lives on in his heart), Sonic the Hedgehog, and the legendary intersection of those two titans, Sonic Free Riders. He is the author of Cold War 2395. Have a useful tip? Send it to

  • There is a reason both the EU and America are commonly referred to and grouped together as "The West". Putting up walls is not how you unite cultures, economically, technologically or socially.
  • What are you talking about? Are you suggesting some other country is freer than the U.S.? Or are you saying that freedom is a bad thing? Seriously, what are you talking about?
  • Protectionist paranoia.
    MS keeps EU data in the EU where the servers are.
    And in tbe past when the DOJ overreachers demanded access to EU data MS fought them in court. And won. Repeatedly.
  • @fjtorres yes and no, at the root of it is really politics and an actual concern. The former, for the most people who are not tech savy - many think waiter or waitress when the term server is mentioned - as opposed to asking or thinking what context?
    The latter, is due to current and past surveilance practises of certain entities.
  • Great for the EU, sovereignty at its best.