Microsoft and the US government fight over data in the cloud

Sean Michael

Microsoft speaking about the cloud

The battle of big business versus big government is being fought among the clouds or at least among Microsoft’s international cloud servers. Microsoft’s director of cyber security and cloud strategy has shared a post titled ‘Privacy considerations in a cloudy world.’ The post highlights points regarding Microsoft’s cyber security made by their Chief Privacy Officer in a video (embedded below). Microsoft is amidst a battle with the government when it comes to protecting their user’s data.

One of the key points was that “Microsoft does not provide any government with direct, unfettered access to customers’ data.” There’s a gray area when it comes to who has authority over data stored by Microsoft. Microsoft claims that since their servers are overseas, the United States government does not have authority to require data to be shared even when it comes to legal cases. The government’s claim is that Microsoft is a United States based company and therefore their assets and data fall under United States jurisdiction. While the federal government gains jurisdiction over any commerce between states within the county’s boundaries, from a legal standpoint, its authority ends at the Unites States’ borders.

Microsoft also highlighted a series of points regarding their customer’s data including not providing any government with encryption keys, not engineering back doors into products, and being the first cloud provider to meet European Union standards for international data transferring.  While pointing out that they have “never provided business or government data in response to a national security order,” they also promised to “contest any attempt by the US government to disclose customer content stored exclusively overseas.”

The battle over Microsoft’s international cloud storage comes from multiple sides and won’t be over any time soon. They have made a firm stance against sharing data with the government and do not seem like they are going to back down. With the legal gray areas surrounding international cloud data storage and the recent backing from the European Union in regards to international data security, Microsoft is making a strong case to keep its data exactly where and how it is.