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Microsoft: European cloud data may not be immune to the Patriot Act

Amar Toor, @amartoo
June 30, 2011
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If you thought you could evade US intelligence by moving to Europe and storing your dirty little secrets in Microsoft's cloud service, guess again. During this week's launch of Office 365, Gordon Frazer, managing director of Microsoft UK, admitted for the first time that cloud data stored at European datacenters could still be handed over to American officials, as outlined by US law. When asked whether Microsoft could guarantee that its EU-stored data would never leave the continent (even if requested under the Patriot Act), Frazer replied: "Microsoft cannot provide those guarantees. Neither can any other company." Because the company's headquarters are in the US, it's obligated to adhere to American laws, meaning that any of the data stored on its servers is fair game for authorities to seize and inspect. Frazer insisted that targeted users "would be informed whenever possible," but claimed that neither Microsoft nor any other US company can guarantee advanced notification. Bottom line: you're better off hiding those nefarious files the old fashioned way -- in an offshore safe deposit box.

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