The cloud is the next frontier of computing and as such the rules are still in flux. Microsoft is trying to position themselves as a secure and private cloud provider for consumers and business, but NSA revelations have put big tech companies like Microsoft in a bad light. Now Microsoft is fighting back in court and by releasing videos trying to communicate to customers or potential customers what is going on.
The cloud can be very difficult to understand so Microsoft is trying to simplify the issues and communicate clearly their position. The big difference between the cloud and traditional on premises commuting is the question of which laws govern the data. Microsoft says that since data centers are located in different regions then the laws of those regions govern the data there. The US government thinks that since Microsoft is a US business and if their customer is from the US then the data should be subject to US laws.
This is an ongoing battle between tech companies and governments, and it shows no signs of settling down soon. In fact the debate over data privacy has united tech companies against intrusive laws. Microsoft is one of the more public figures in this battle, but their allies include Apple, Google, Dropbox, and Amazon. The major platform of these companies is that new laws have to be formed to govern the cloud. Old laws are too blunt and don’t properly navigate the new cloud environment.
Any tech company looking to do business outside the US is likely to have an uphill battle convincing customers that their data will be safe from the prying eyes of the NSA. This can be difficult because in many of these data cases there is a gag order which prevents tech companies from saying that the data is being requested. Microsoft has latched on to a case which was more public to make their case against the US government and to their customers that they are serious about data privacy.Further reading: Azure, Cloud, data privacy, Microsoft, US Government