What you need to know
- Microsoft will now keep all personal cloud data from within EU countries within the European Union.
- The move is part of Microsoft's growing efforts to comply with EU data protection laws and control where data is stored and can be accessed from.
- Later this year, Microsoft will keep support data, such as data used for technical support interactions, within the EU as well.
Microsoft just announced a step forward in its efforts to keep cloud data within the EU. This week, the tech giant shared that all personal data will now be kept within the EU Data Boundary. This is an important evolution of the company's efforts to keep in compliance with EU law and to give organizations and users control over where their data is stored.
A blog post from Microsoft breaks down the changes and advancements:
"Last year, as the first step in our phased approach to the rollout of the EU Data Boundary, we delivered the ability to store and process customer data within the boundary for Microsoft 365, Azure, Power Platform, and Dynamics 365 services.
Today, building on that initial release, Microsoft further expands our local storage and processing to include all personal data, such as automated system logs, making Microsoft the first large-scale cloud provider to deliver this level of data residency to European customers."
Later this year, processing and storage capabilities for data from technical support interactions will be stored within the EU Data Boundary as well. In situations where data must be accessed from outside the EU, Microsoft will use temporary data transfer.
More than just legal requirements
While Microsoft's push to keep data in the EU Data Boundary is related to legal requirements, the company has also taken steps beyond what the EU requires.
"Our EU Data Boundary solution goes beyond European compliance requirements and reflects our commitment to provide trusted cloud services that are designed to take advantage of the full power of the public cloud while respecting European values and providing the most advanced sovereignty controls and features available in the industry today," explained Microsoft.
Microsoft leadership chose to go beyond legal requirements, but privacy laws are a massive factor when it comes to all tech companies that operate in Europe. Meta was fined $1.3 billion for how it handled the data of EU users. The New York Times reported on that situation early in 2023.
Microsoft clearly wants to avoid any fines for similar actions. There are security factors when it comes to data storage, but the push to keep data within the EU has been controversial. Some are concerned that restricting where data can be stored and be accessed from will stymie the free flow of information that the Internet is known for and relies upon.
"Without the ability to transfer data across borders, the internet risks being carved up into national and regional silos, restricting the global economy and leaving citizens in different countries unable to access many of the shared services we have come to rely on," said Meta President of Global Affairs Nick Clegg and Jennifer G. Newstead in March 2023 after Meta was fined.
Notably, Clegg was once Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
Microsoft also has a dedicated website related to the EU Data Boundary for the Microsoft Cloud.
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Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at email@example.com.