Microsoft Reworks Data Storage Policy In Response To NSA Concerns

By CIOReview | Monday, January 27, 2014

FREMONT, CA: In response to concerns over the U.S. government’s illicit spying activities, Microsoft has decided to allow customers in foreign countries to have their data stored outside the U.S., reports James Fontanella-Khan and Richard Waters of Financial Times.

In a move that is being frowned upon by Internet companies and applauded by privacy advocates, the software giant’s top lawyer Brad Smith said it is necessary for them to safeguard the sensitive information they are being entrusted with by the users. National Security Agency (NSA), using Microsoft’s networks to spy on citizens from Brazil to across the European Union did not seem to sit well with the company. It is only fair for them to be aggravated, for the security agency’s snooping could potentially cost them in billions. While, many tech giants among the likes of Google, Yahoo and Facebook have voiced their opinions against the government, Microsoft has been the first to act.

According to Smith, people will have the liberty of choosing a non-U.S. data center to house their data. While this does not guarantee NSA’s inaccessibility to those servers, it does provide an added layer of security as it is difficult for them to gain access without stepping on the local government’s toes. But one major hurdle the company is unlikely to overcome is the Patriot Act, which compels U.S. tech companies to hand over data to the government when they are asked for it, irrespective of the servers’ geographical location.

While the Patriot Act might seem to rain on this parade, not having data on U.S. soil does offer foreign users a better level of protection as NSA will have to jump through lots of hoops before they can actually lay their hands on the information.