EU ready to fight Microsoft on access to cloud data

European Parliament members are up in arms after a recent admission by Microsoft that they may be required by the Patriot Act to secretly give U.S. authorities access to European data stored in Microsoft's cloud.  The controversy stems from the EU's Data Protection Directive, which dictates that companies must notify users if/when their data is handed over to another party.  If Microsoft is forced to follow Patriot Act guidelines, then that would mean the U.S. law would trump European law.  Some parliamentarians have taken up the cause to prevent that from happening.

Sophia In't Veld, a member of the Parliament's civil liberties committee, urged her colleagues to consider the matter:

"Does the Commission consider that the U.S. Patriot Act thus effectively overrules the E.U. Directive on Data Protection? What will the Commission do to remedy this situation, and ensure that E.U. data protection rules can be effectively enforced and that third country legislation does not take precedence over E.U. legislation?"

Currently, the Safe Harbor act, which allows companies like Microsoft to transfer data from European storage facilities guarantees users reasonable security and enforcement.  However, if the Patriot Act is allowed supersede that, then it renders that guarantee useless.  Theo Bosboom, IT lawyer with Dirkzager Lawyers, had this to say:

"I'm afraid that Safe Harbor has very little value anymore, since it came out that it might be possible that U.S. companies that offer to keep data in a European cloud are still obliged to allow the U.S. government access to these data on basis of the Patriot Act..."

The struggle for data protection extends beyond the issue of sovereignty of state.  Should the matter remain as is, it opens the floodgates for other companies' data to be secretly put in the hands of U.S. officials.  Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc. could all be affected.  European Parliament members have taken up the cause for their constituents, but until it is fully resolved, Bosboom says that, "Europeans would be better to keep their data in Europe. If a European contract partner for a European cloud solution, offers the guarantee that data stays within the European Union, that is without a doubt the best choice, legally."

Source: PCWorld

  • oh jeez here we go again... :/
  • Too funny. just tell the EU this the Marshal plan payback is due.Plus the EU is like a dictatorship just ask the folks in the UK who now have to fly the EU flag. billions sent to Brussels so they can say hey UK you have to let everyone in. even if they suck you dry in benefits.. I wouldn't trust the EU nor do I trust the morons in DC.
  • Is your only source of information about UK - Daily Mail?
  • *face palms* if its not a paten lawsuit its a freaking government problem, lol can anything go smoothly for MS?
  • I don't think you understand. This is not a Microsoft problem. Its a governmental problem that every U.S. company will be affected by. Whats odd is that the EU reps are acting like they didn't already know me the Patriot Act has been law in the U.S. for some years now. You can bet they have alread read through it.
  • Seriously love the Street Fighter image :)
  • So really the headlines on both your and PC-world's site should read EU upset at pratical reality of the Patriot Act. It seems that Microsoft has very little to do with the story aside from plainly stating what a US law compels them to do. This seems less about the EU "fighting" Microsoft and more about companies & governments storing their data with foriegn companies.
  • Spot on, this isnt Microsofts 'rule', its the United States rule. Its typical though that headlines always seem to put Microsoft in the evil empire role.
  • It is beyond Microsoft and I believe quite misleading to say "EU ready to fight Microsoft" in the title ;)Microsoft being a US-based company has to comply with the US Patriot Act requirements which entails the possibility that was outlined in the UK Manager's comments.The EU is not at odds with Microsoft specifically. This is the same situation for all US companies.The EU needs to create regulations that 'block' the US system. Only then will Microsoft and other companies be able to 'protect' the EU citizens' data.
  • MS should move their offices from USA and EU and run their business from some Carribean Island, where noone cares about any laws. :-)
  • Seriously! Haha I mean they can easily buy an island. But then 10 years down the line they'll seem like an evil military compound in some kind of way like the movies lol
  • This definitely isn't a fault of Microsoft, this is the fault of the Patriot Act. And even though I don't live in Europe, I for one am glad they're trying to change something.The U.S. has no right accessing information that's stored on EUROPEAN SERVERS just because they're operated by a European division of Microsoft.
  • The Patriot Act is a travesty. So is the headline to this article. Change it to reflect that its the EU vs US Patriot Act, not Microsoft per se. The issue affects everyone else as well.