The Visitor's Center at Microsoft Headquarters campus is pictured July 17, 2014 in Redmond, Washington.Source: 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.

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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.